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r.tt^-^ 



r 



Of tf)e xiiitf) Centurp, 



A SERIES OF EXAMPLES, ILLUSTRATING THE NATURE 
OF THEIR DESIGN AND ARTISTIC VALUE, SELECTED, 

INTRODUCED, AND DESCRIBED 



BY 



GALE PEDRICK 

Fellow op the Royal Historical Society 



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London : 

THE DE LA MORE PRESS 
198 REGENT STREET, W 

MCMII 






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PRIMTBD AT THE 
DB LA MORB PBBSt 
298 RBGBNT STBBBTy W 



l^rtginal Sufcamfera* 



Adam, P., Esq. 

A'DAifSy John O., Esq. 

AxTCHxsoNy G.y Esq., R.A. 

Allsn. E. G. 8c Murrat, Messrs. 

AiJiA-TADBMAy Sir L., R.A.y D.C.L., 
LiTT.D., F.S.A. 

Almacc, Edward, Esq., F.S.A. 

Anderson, Archibald, Esq. 

Arnold, A. A., Esq. 

Baddblky, St. Clair, Esq. 

Barwell, NofiL P., Esq., Trin. Coll. Cantab 
(2 copies.) 

Battbrsea, The Right Hon. Lord 

Bell, W. Heward, Esq. * 

Bbnsly, W. T., Esq., LL.D., P.S.A. 

Bethill, William, Esq. 

Bevan, P. L. Esq. 

^ Blanc, Hippolyts J., Esq., R.S.A., 
"^ P.R.I.Bj\., P.S.A. (Scot.) 

'^ Bohn, H., Esq. 

^ BowBN, Thb Ret. David 

^ BoTS, Henry S., Esq., I.C.S. (Retired.) 

Brabrook, E. W., Esq., C.B., P.S.A. 

Brakspear, Harold, Esq., F.S.A. 
^^ Brbmridgb, Mn. Margaret (deed.) 



i 



Brbmridgb, Phiup, Esq. 




Brbmt, Algernon, Esq., F.R.G.S. 

Brockhaus, p. a., Esq. 

Brocklehurst, S., Esq., P.R.G.S. 
P.R.H1ST.S0C. 

Brookb, Sir Thomas, Bart., P.S.A. 

Brooke, The Rev. Stopford 

Brooking-Rowe, J., Esq. 

^ Brown, W., Esq., P.S.A. 



Brown, William, Esq. 

Biownlow, The Right Rev. Wiluam R., 
Bishp ofCRjton (deed.) 

Bruce, John, Esq. 

Brvshfibld, T. N., Esq., M.D., P.S.A. 

Bruton, D. Ybo, Esq. 

BvMPus, Messn. John 3c E., Ltd. (56 copus,) 

BuRcu, Arthur, Esq. 

Burns & Oates, Ltd., Messn. 

Burton, Thb Right Hon. Lord, D.L., J.P. 

Campbell, N. D., Esq. 

Carmichael, Sir T. D. Gibson, Bart., M.A. 

Carrington, Chatoes, Esq. 

Cave, Charles, J.P., Esq. 

Cary, Mrs., of Tom Abbey 

Cary-Elwes, V. D. H., Esq., D.L., J.P., 
P.S.A. 

Chadwick, S. J., Esq., P.S.A. 

Champneys, Basil, Esq. 

Chapman, H. Mapleton, Esq. 

Charles, Edward J., Esq. 

Church, Professor A. H., M. A., D.Sc.,P.R.S. 

Clarke, Sir Ernest, M.A., P.S.A. 

Clifford of Chudleigh, The Right Hon. 
Lord. 

Clout, Richard, Esq. 

CoLLBTT, The. Rev. Edw. 

CoLviLLE, H. Ker, Esq. 

CoMMiN, J. G., Esq. (2 copies.) 

Cooper, The Rev. T. S. 

Copp, John, Esq. 

Cornish Brothers, Messrs. 

Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, Thb 
Rev. the Master of. 



VI. 



ORIGINAL SUBSCRIBERS 



Crane, Walter, Esq. 

Crews, Chas. T. D.. Esq., F.S^. 

Croslegh, The Rev. Chas., D.D. 

Davis, Colonel John 

Deighton, Bell & Co., Messrs. (2 copies,) 

Dick, James A., Esq., M.D. (Edin.) 

Downing, Wiluam, Esq. 

Douglas, P., Esq. 

Egerton of Tatton, The Right Hon. 
The Earl 

Elworthy, Frbdk. T., Esq., F.S.A. 

Evans, Sir John, K.C.B., D.C.L., LLD., 
Sc.D., F.R.S., D.L. 

Evans, The Rev. Geo. Eyre 

Exeter, The Right Rev. the Lord 
Bishop of (Dr. Ryle.) 

Fairbank, F. R., Esq., M.D., F.S.A. 

Falkiner, Sir Leslie, Bart. 

Fane, W. D., Esq., J.P. 

Farrar., The Very Rev. F. W., D.D., 
F.R.S., Dean of Canterbury 

Fenton, James, Esq., M.A., F.S.A. 

FiTZMAURiCE, The Right Hon. Lord 
Edmond, M.P. . 

Fletcher, W. Y., Esq., F.S.A. 

Frost, Fred. C, Esq., F.S.L 

Fuller, A. E., Esq. 

Gamon, John, Esq. 

Garner, Thomas, Esq. 

Gasquet, The Right Rev. F. A., D.D. 

George's Sons, Messrs. William 

GiLBEY, Sir Walter, Bart. 

GiLMAN, Sir Charles R., J.P. 

Gilpin, Captain 

GossRLiN, H. R. H., Esq. 

Gough Henry, Esq., Barrister-at-Law 

Graham, Miss Louise 

Grange, Ernest L., Esq., M.A., LL.D.,F.S.A. 



Greenwood, Hubert J., Esq., F.S.A. 
Gretton, John, Esq., Jun., M.P. 
Grissell, Hartwell D., Esq., M.A., F.S.A. 
Guthrie, James, Esq. 
GwYNNE, J. E. A., Esq., J.P., F.S.A. 

Haden, Sir F. Seymour, P.R.E. 

Hau, Edwin T., Esq., F.R.LB.A. 

Hanson, Sir Reginald, Bart., LL.D., F.S.A. 

Harben, H. a., Esq., F.S.A. 

Harmsworth, Alfred, Esq. 

Hartland, E., Esq., F.S.A. 

Haslam, Sir A. Seale, M.P. 

Haworth, The Rev. W., F.S.A. 

Healey, C. E. H. Chadwyck, Esq., K.C. 

Hems, Harry, Esq. 

Herbert op Llanover, The Honourable 
Augusta 

Herbert, Chas. J, J., Esq. 

HiGGiNs, Alfred, Esq., F.S.A. 

Hoblyn, Richard A., Esq., F.S.A. 

Hodges, Figgis & Co., Ltd., Messrs. 

(2 copies,) 

Hodgkin, Thomas, Esq., B.A., D.C.L. 

HoDsoN, Laurence W., Esq. 

Hole, Mrs. 

Holland, F. W., Esq. 

Holland, Robert M., Esq. 
Holland, Alfred R., Esq. 

HoLMAN, H. Wilson, Esq. 

HovENDEN, Robert, Esq., F.S.A. 

HuDD, Alfred E. Esq., F.S.A. 

Hudson, The Rev. Wiluam, M.A., F.S.A. 

HuGGiNs Sir Wm., K.C.B., D.C.L., LL.D., 
ScD., P.R.S., etc. 

Hughes, H. R., Esq., ofKinmel 

Jackman, Edward, Esq. 

Jackson, Thomas G., Esq., R.A., F.S.A. 

James, Dr. M. R., FitXitoURam Museum^ 
Cambridge 



ORIGINAL SUBSCRIBERS 



vn. 



Johnston, Mr. P. M. 

KiMPB» C. E., Esq. 

Ketsbr, Cmaiiles. E.| Esq.y M.A., F.S.A. 

KiNGDONy KcNT, Esq. (deed.) Trustees of 

KiRBT, T. F., Esq., M.A., F.S.A., mnckester 
Colkff 

KiTCHiN, The Very Rev. G. W., D.D., 
DiM of Durham 

KrrcHiNG, John, Esq., F.R.G.S., F.Z.S., etc. 

Knight, W. T. Esq. 

Knowlbs, W. H., Esq., F.S.A., F.R.I.B.A. 

Lapontainb, Alfred de, Esq. 

Lamplvgm, The Rev. D. 

Laver, Henry, Esq. 

Latton, Thomas, Esq. 

Lbadman, Alex. D. H., Esq. 

Leigh, The Very Rev. Hon. James W., 
D.D., Dean ofHenfird 

Lewis, Sir W. T., Bart., K.B. 

Luke, Edmund W., Esq. 

Lynam, C, Esq., F.R.LB.A. 

Lyte, Sir H. C. Maxwell, K.C.B. 

Macfarlane-Grievb, W. a., Esq., J.P., M. A., 
S.C.L.Ozon., M.A.Cantab., r.S.A.ScoT. 

Macmillan 8c Bowes, Messrs. (8 eofUs,) 

Maggs Brothers, Messrs. 

Maples, Ashley K., Esq. 

Margerison, Samuel, Esq. 

Marriott, W. K. Esq., F.R.Hist.Soc. 

Matheson, Sir Kenneth, Bart. 

Midland Educational Co., Birmingham 

(3 copies.) 

Mills, R. M., Esq. 

Mitchell, Frank J., Esq., J.P., D.L., F.S.A. 

Mitchinson,The Right Rev. Bishop, D.C.L., 
D.D., Pmbroki CMtff^ Oxoh. 

MrrcHiNSON, W. G., Esq. 

Molyneuz, The Rev. B. W. H., D.C.L., 
F.S.A. 



Moore, J. P., Esq., F.R.LB.A. 

MoRo, His Grace the Duke dr 

MoRSON, Thomas, Esq. 

Mylne,Thb Rev. R. S., M.A., B.C.L.Ozon., 
F.S.A., 8cc. 

Naunton, Walter W., Esq. 

Navarro, A. F. db, Esq. 

Newman, S. A. Grundy, Esq. 

Nichols, F. M., Esq., F.S.A. 

Noble, J. H. B., Esq. 

Norfolk, His Grace the Duke op, K.G., 
Earl Marshal 

Northumberland, His Grace the Duke 
OF, K.G., P.C., etc. 

Orange, Gbffrard, Esq. 

Otto Schulzb & Co., Messn. (a cofUs,) 

Owen, The Rev. Canon Trevor, F.S.A. 

Parker & Co., Messrs. James 

Peckovbr, Alexander, Esq., LL.D., F.S.A., 
F.L.S., F.R.G.S., Lord Liiuanant of 
Cambridffshin 

Pedrick, T. a. G., Esq. 

Pbdrick, R. W., Esq. 

Pedrick, Albert, Esq. 

Pedrick, Geo. B., Esq. 

Pedrick, Tuos. R., Esq. 

Pembroke, The Right Hon. the Earl of, 
P.C, G.C.V.O. 

Pereira, J. A. W., Esq., L.R.C.P., M.R.C.S. 

Perkins, Mrs. Frank P. 

Peter, Thurstan C, Esq. 

PiXLEY, Francis W., Esq., F.S.A. 

Platnauer, H. M., Esq., York Museum 

PoNTiNG, C. W. E., Esq., F.S.A. 

Poole, Edward D., Esq. 

Prance, The Rev. Lewis N., M.A. 

Prater, T. Herbert, Esq. 

Preston, R. Bassnett, Esq., A.R.LB.A. 



VUI. 



ORIGINAL SUBSCRIBERS 



Radclipfe, R. D.y Esq.y M.A.y F.S.A. 

Ready, A., Esq. 

RipoN, THE Most Hon. the Marquess op, 
K.G., P.Cy G.C.S.I.y C.I.E.y etc, 

RopERy Alpred H.y Esq. 

RoYCSy The Ret. David 

Salzmann, L. F.9 Esq. 

St. Albans, The Right Rev. the Lord 
Bishop op (Dr. Festing.) 

Schr6der» Walter, Esq., Deputy CorMirJbr 
London and Middlesex 

Secretan, The Rev. W. W. 

Seebohm, Frederic, Esq., LL.D., J.P.,F.S.A. 

Sbrjeantson, The Rev. R. M. 

Sewell, The Rev. James £., D.D., Warden 
of New CoUeff^ Oxford 

Shelly, John, Esq. 

Smallpeice, The Rev. G. 

Smith, W. J., Esq. 

Stephens, The very Rev. W. R. W., B.D., 
F.S.A., Dean of Winchester 

Stoker, Sir W. Thornley 

Stubs, Peter, Esq. 

Stubbs, The very Rev. C. W., D.D., Dean 
ofSly 

Sturley, F. W., Esq, 

Sutton, The Lady 

Tangye, Sir Richard, F.R.G.S., J.P. 

Tbnnant, Sir C.> Bart., J.P., D.L. 

Thomas,The Venerable Archdeacon, F.S.A. 

Trahbrne, L. E., Esq. 

Treherne, Geo. G. T., Esq. 

Trevail, Silvanus, Esq., F.R.LB.A., J.P., 
President of the Society of Architects 

Tout, Propessor T. F. 

Twietmeybr, a., Esq. 

Underdown, H. W., Esq. 

Vade-Walpole, Mrs. 

Vincent, Sir Edgar, K.C.M.G., M.P. 



Wadmore, J. F., Esq. 

Walker, John W., Esq. 

Walters, Fredk. A., Esq., F.S.A. 

Ward, C. B., Esq. 

Warren, John, Esq., B.A., LL.B., J.P. 

Watkin, T. M. J., Esq., PortculRs 

Weber, Dr. F. Parses 

Were, Francis, Esq. 

Weston, Lt.-Col. G. Hunter 

Wilkinson, T. R., Esq. • 

Williams, Sir John, Bart. 

Williams, T. W., Esq. 

Williams 8c Norgatb, Messrs. 

Wilson, Thomas, Esq. 

WingpieIld, a. H., Esq. 

WippELL, Henry H., Esq. 

Wyon, Allan, Esq., F.S.A. 

Yates, The Rev. S. A. Thompson 
Young, Henry 8c S6ns. Messrs. 

LIBRARIES. 

Barrow-in-Furness, Public 
Birmingham, Museum and Art Gallery 
Blackburn, Free Public 
BooTLE, Free Public 
Bradpord, Free 
Bury (Lanes.), Public 

Cambridge, Gonville and Calus College 
Canterbury, Free 
Cardipp, Free 

DuBUN, National Library 
„ Royal Irish Academy 
„ Ulster Ofiice 

Edinburgh, Museum of Science and Art 
Lyon Ofiice 
Public 



9» 



W 



ORIGINAL SUBSCRIBERS 



IX. 



Edinburgh, Signet 

Eton Collbgb 

EzBTBRy Dean and Chapter 

Fort AvGutrus, St. Benedict's Abbejr 

GoDAUfiNGy Charterhouse 
Glasgow, The Mitchell 

„ Unirersity 
GuBRNSBY, Gttille-All^ 

Hull, Public 

Lbbds, Free Public 
Lincoln, Dean and Chapter 

„ Public 
Livbrpool, Public 
London, Bishopsgate Institute 

Burlington Fine Art Club 

Guildhall 

London • 

National Art 

Public Record Office 

Royal Institution of Great Britain 

Sion College 

The Tate, Stteatham, S.W. 

Dr. Williams's 



tf 



y» 



9» 



»» 



ft 



99 



n 



tf 



*9 



Manchbster, Chetham's 

The John Rylands 
Public Free 



99 



>9 



Newcastlb-upon-Tynb, Public 

„ Society of Antiquaries 

Nbwport (Mon.), Free 
NoTTiNGUAii, Free Public 

Oldham, Public 

OzpoRD, AU Souls College (Codrington) 

„ Christ Church College 

„ Magdalen College 

„ University Antiquarian Society 

m 

Plymouth, Proprietaiy and Cottonian 

Reading, Free Public 
Rbpton, School 
RocHDALB, Free Public 

St. Andrbws, University 
St. Helens (Lane), Free Public 
Saffron Waldbn, Public 
Sunderland, Public ^ 

Warrington, The Museum 
Wells, Dean and Chapter of 
WiGAN, Free Public 
Whitby, Subscription 
Worthing, Public 

York, The Dean and Chapter of 



I^xtfatt. 



IN selecting the seals which illustrate this work, whilst the reproduction of a number of 
the best remaining instances was provided for, I was not wholly influenced by the idea 
of presenting as many of the finest extant as was possible. That the group might have a 
value not restricted to the pictorial, I also aimed at affording through the plates as wide a 
view of seal design and execution, of the period limited, as was practicable. This explains 
the omission of a few artistic and well-preserved examples and accounts for the illustration of 
others of lesser value artistically, together with some which time has harshly dealt with. 
The difficulties attendant upon reproduction were numerous, and I am glad of this opportunity 
to acknowledge the successful manner in which these have been met by Mr. James Hyatt of 
the Rembrandt Studio, and the artistic fashion in which he has treated the seals. For the 
satis&ctory way in which the casts were prepared, Mr. Ready of the British Museum claims 
my thanks. 

In importance and interest the histories of our dissolved monastic centres widely difter. 
That the designs appertain in many cases to the chief, and those which exhibit the most 
engrossing features is due to accident, not contrivance, all other aspects having been made 
subservient to the artistic. A work of this character, in so hr as the historical matter is 
concerned, obviously, partakes largely of the nature of a compilation. Beyond the subject of 
seals I have conducted no independent research, but have drawn the necessary material from 
such literature as was available and useful. To enumerate all the works to which I have had 
recourse is not feasible, but I eagerly express and acknowledge the great obligations 
under which I rest to that monument of patience and scholarship, Dugdale's ** Mouasticw 
AngRcanum ^ (Edition of 1 846), and the ** Catakgut of Bids in tki Department of Manuscripts 
in the BriHsA Museusn^ by Dr. W. de Gray Birch, F.S.A. The conception of the work, its 
plan and execution are, of course, peculiar to it. 

Gale Pedrick. 

Teignmouth, February, 1902. 



(CtstnttnU. 



Page 
Introduction ------ i 

Descriptive Notes ----- 29 

Index -------- 143 

Plates 



Jnfruirutfton. 



I. 

AT this period most of the channels of Art have been explored, their 
rise, ebb, and flow studied with sympathy and interest, as well as 
due tribute paid to their highest achievements. One course, however, 
affords a distinct exception — videlicet^ the seal Art of the Middle Ages. 
The full-tide in which its progress culminated has occasionally incited 
adulatory remark, but the labour of its strivings, the throb of its 
aspirations have been almost entirely unheeded — ^that full acknowledgement 
its triumphs challenge wholly withheld. Partial explanation is not far to 
seek. Practically, and in this it differs from those of most Arts, the 
function which its productions were devised to exercise is no longer what 
once it was — a common necessity. Changes in custom and circumstance 
divested it of this and as a corollary time impeded its continuous 
development. Around an Art arrested in its advance by the obsoletism of 
its uses the veil of obscurity naturally gathered. A dead theme, like the 
buried dead, it lay fot^otten. By later ages forgotten because, having no 
knowledge of it (its remains hidden away in repositories for the vestiges of 
the past) they could not remember. Notwithstanding, so pregnant is it 
with vehement beauty that its failure to obtain adequate appreciation and 
attract the attention of those who have sedulously prosecuted research 
through development to genesis in other Arts, provokes no mean surprise. 
Inspired in the eleventh century, when the whole realm of Art was 
awakening from a sleep which almost approximated death, in the twelfth 
this particular tributary struggled for a purer articulation, in the thirteenth 
cast off the bonds with which crudity enfettered it, attained its loftiest, and 
in that and in the succeeding century produced, chiselled with exquisite 
spirit and delicacy some of the most consummate artistic efforts of 
mediaeval times. Naturally, in view of the age, the Gothic spirit 
prepossessed it. As its evolution came abreast of that magnificent order 

B 



2 INTRODUCTION 

of stone distribution thus distinguished, which with the Crusades con- 
stituted the greatest idylls of the Middle Ages, it expanded under its 
reful influence, and participated relatively m its ambition and glory, 
subsequent and comparative history yields a grievous contrast. 
Generally speaking the records of the various arts in conception, craft» 
style, expression, and all that makes and marks true Art shew, save for 
epochal depressions and retrogressions always remedied and counteracted, 
an evolutionary excellence with its filial maintenance and future promise. 
Seal Art failing to recover from its first retrograde movement, marked 
as was the de(£ne of Roman Art under the Emperors by an exuber- 
ance of tawdry ornament, pursued it to its nadir. Imbued with the 
soul which dominated architectural style, with the European spirit of the 
time, and advancing with it to manifest its essence it declined in 
mnpathetic unison. When it came under the succeeding influence, the 
Renaissance — ^which aflfected contrarily the classic Art of gem engraving, 
— ^to emphasise the source which gave it life its state was wrought to a 
debasement far more ignoble than mat in which the decline of the Gothic 
spirit reduced it Bringing life to Art generally, to this branch the revival 
practically brought extinction. 

All the best instances of seal Art which corresponded to the eatlv 
English and decorated epochs, no matter what their class, contained niucn 
that was artistically commendable, but for delicacy of execution, beauty, 
variety of conception and magnificence, those ecclesiastical in character 
surpassed the 'rest. Compared with them lay seals lacked an almost 
indefinable element which characteristic differences in the designers, and 
the divetgent usages for which their works were intended (the one 
religious, me other civil) can only explain. History and archeology unite 
in witnessing that in the monastic centres not only were the princi^ seats 
of learning located, but the chief springs of artistic taste and culture also. 
The religious formulas which prevailed and the devotions which obtained 
were in the highest degree artistic. By them Art, viewed from the most 
elevated standpoint, was inspired. Their mechanism demanded the 
loftiest possible expression of artistic feeling, and in designing and 
fashioning altar-pieces, shrines, chests, tapestry, gospels, psalters, mass and 
ofilice books, vestments, and other ecclesiastic^ machinery with a skill 
which fluctuated but with an instinct conceived by Religion and bom of 
Art, and a piety that was steadfast, in the lavish and splendid manipulation 
of metal, stone, other materials, and colour it was enunciated. When, 
later, these centres stood at bar whatever defects were discovered in their 
systems the neglect or discouragement of Art did not yield an instance. 
In view of the forgoing, ecclesiastical seals it is feasible to conjecture were, 
as a rule, monastic productions. 



EARLY EXCELLENCE OF SEAL ART 3 

Ecclesiastical seal design may be broadly defined as an endeavour to 
convey through this medium the circumstances and ideal conceptions of 
medieval Christianity. The effort, as its wide variation testifies, was a 
successful one. Superficially as much is obvious. But deeper study 
reveals a beauty more intense, the active exercise of great depth of 
thought, the working of rich imagination, and in the symbolism enlisted, 
full of hidden charm, the action of that faculty lately mediaeval of 
seizing the incorporeal, and giving it substantial expression. The craft 
was heavily encompassed by restrictions. The space available was 
meaere, the surface of peculiar and inconvenient form— conditions which 
preduded room for that vigorous, untrammded, and telling play afforded 
in the working of ^uger masses of metal and stone— whilst the difliculties 
of intagRo production are apparent. In its artificers were united skill, 
industry, patience, and artistic sense— at times high artistic capacity. 
Joined to these were humility and devotional ardour, for, similarly with 
contemporarv artists whose work inclined towards the sacred, their central 
thought, theu* governing idea was to make Art not only the exponent, but 
the handmaid and confidant of Religion. It is the fruits of this which gave 
ecclesiastical seals their artistic pre-eminence. In face of the difficmties 
attendant upon their creation, to style the highest results as remarkable 
would be only to qualify them. 

But the most significant feature, one hitherto entirdy ignored, which 
demands particular consideration and appraisement in connection with seal 
Art consists in (if we may be allowed the term) its premature excellence. 
A comparative scanning of artistic devdopment disdoses that before 
pwiting, and Italian — as well, perhaps, English — sculpture achieved a 
state at all corresponding, religious seal Art had entered upon, if not 
attained its highest devdopment. Siuprising as this assertion, ^Ma^nV, 
appears at least one example has been preserved — ^how many of equal 
virtue are lost to us we cannot even surmise — to maintain it. Before the 
end of the thirteenth century Italian brushwork consistently bore an 
approximation to the Byzantine — characterized by severe lifdessness, the 
degradation of the human form (consequent upon the canons which 
condemned the study of the figure) to austere caricature, and the stiflF and 
formal depiction of drapery. Beyond these conventions it had not yet 
traversed. The year a.d. 1240 witnessed the birth of a painter, whose 
genius the immortal Dante has extolled, destined to become renowned — 
Cimabue, the founder of a fresh school which Florence, Siena, and Pisa 
advanced. One picture of his, a Madonna and Child painted upon &[t 
wood, was hailed by the Florentines with great enthusiasm. Acclaimed a 
masterpiece yet this work revealed in its creator an ignorance of anatomy, 
and measured by later criteria teemed with imperfections. In the Virgin's 



4 INTRODUCTION 

head descended the archaic type referred to. The nose was drawn long 
and thin, the mouth and chin in remarkable diminution, the hands and feet 
of both figures were absurdly elongated whilst the draping lacked ease 
and grace entirely. In Duccio di Buonins^na, who laboured with ecuud 
aptitude and genius at Siena, Cimabue had a worthy contemporary. He 
selected the same popular theme for the central panel of his famed altar- 
piece in the Duomo, and in the work of the Sienese the faults of the 
Florentine are discovered. Their two productions, both artistically 
defective, mark the stage which painting had reached at the period 
indicated. Italian sculpture had advanced farther. Some thirty years 
before Cimabue saw the light there was born at Pisa, which lead in 
the reanimation of sculpture, a genius who prescribed the track it followed, 
and to whom is ascribed the subsequent excellence of European painting 
as well as sculpture — ^Niccola Pisano. Several of the panels of the pulpit, 
the work of his hands and intellect, in the baptistery of his native city are 
markedly faulty, certain of the figures exhibiting inaccuracies of drawing 
and decided want of proportion. How far painting and sculpture feU 
short of the standard attained by ecclesiastical seal Art, one attended 
with greater difficulties, the obverse of the seal of Merton Priory 
(a reproduction of an impression of which is illustrated — ^Plate I., Seal I.) 
doquentiy shews. This seal, which was executed in silver the year after 
Citnabue^s birtb^ also displayed the subject of his picture and the panel of 
Duccio, but with an absolute freedom from the blemishes of either 
— save in one respect. Neither did it share, with the same reservation, 
the noted defects of the sculpture described. The matrix of this 
seal has lone; been lost, or more probably destroyed for the sake 
of the metal of which it was composed, but the impression before 
us, which has survived the stress of six centuries, clearly reveals 
that the figures were modelled with a truth, spirit, skill, and beauty 
surpassed only in the rarest instances by brush or chisel. Artistically the 
virtues of the chief are very great ; the pose is both natural and dignified, 
the expression of the features benign and maternal, whilst the drapery 
falls without formal arrangement into the most delicate folds. In 
endeavouring to show the discrepancies existing between it and contem- 
porary painting and sculpture we implied the existence of a fault. 
The impression reveals a slight disproportion and want of truth in 
the right arm, hand, and fingers of the Virgin, and in the right hand and 
fingers of the Child, and the question arises whether the artist completed 
the work he had begun, or from some circumstance or other was precluded 
from doing so. The presence of this defect is so inconsistent with the 
excellence of the rest of the work that it would be absurd to declare the 
artist responsible for its beautiful and skilful limning was incapable of 



COMPARISON WITH OTHER ARTS 5 

drawing a true hand and arm — his anatomical knowledge is evident, his 
capacity without question— or that he wilfully marred what was almost an 
ethereal creation. The only reasonable conclusion that we can reach is 
that the seal through a cause we cannot even surmise passed to a less 
skilful hand to finish. Happily its age admits of no question. Its 
reception into the Priory is recorded in its annals ; a document is 
yet extant authenticated by it shortly after the date given as that of 
its creation ; and moreover the architectural canopy erected above the 
figures tends by analogy to limit the period in which it could have been 
contrived. During Pisano's lifetime an architectural and sculptural creation 
of singular dignity, chastity, and beauty, which has evoked the admiration of 
Flaxman and all artists and critics independent of school, was raised in our 
own country, namely the west front of W ells Cathedral. This sculpturally- 
enriched facade finds no competitor in this, nor is it surpassed in any other 
kingdom. With those of Rheims, or Bourges it does not shrink from 
comparison. It was finished many years before the Cathedrals of Amiens 
and Orvieta — being generally ascribed to the episcopate of Jocdine, 
A.D. 1206-42 — ^and is esteemed the most premature instance of kindred 
sculpture in Western Europe. Assiuning the accuracy of the period 
to which its construction is ascribed its sculptiual excellence scarcely 
anticipated the perfected Art of the seal adduced. But a renowned 
architect assigns its erection to a time subsequent to the prelacy of 
Jocdine, in the light of which determination the seal is of greater age. 
Here the point is of no particular moment. We measure the height of a 
devdopment by its finest individual example, albeit the residue tarry 
far behind, and in either event it is infallibly demonstrable that many 
years before painting fireed itself from the crudity and convention of 
tradition, and when sculpture had only begun to aspire to the flood-tide 
of its second life (not yet reached) ecdesiastical sesu Art as r^;ards its 
absolute purity had attained its zenidi. 

Since seals constituted the only means of authenticating docimients, 
and were attached to those of trivial as wdl as of great importance, of 
all contemporary Arts that which involved their manufacture was perhaps 
the most fertile, and in its ramifications the most far-reaching. These 
conditions endued it with a considerable educational value. Necessarily 
the output was large, and from a single matrix were produced a 
multiplicity of impressions, each truly convejring the original design, 
disseminated amongst all grades of society. Thus must have been incited 
emotions dependent upon their artistic value. If the scheme was half- 
studied and unskilfully executed it must have offended the taste of the 
sensitive and created as a corollary a desire for higher things ; if well 
designed and finished it contrarily gratified it, and stimulated artistic 



6 INTRODUCTION 

perception. That the effect of the system was as described is a deduction 
too lo^cal to be heedlessly brushed aside. 

Apart from the artistic aspect, a study more engrossing than that 
afforded by mediaeval seals it would be difficult to conceive. Nor is the 
idrtue of the pursuit thus restricted. In them the varied threads 
of history and archaeology with other lines are interwoven. The 
blend is a rich and valuable one. In assisting the historian in the 
construction and classification of fact they have proved most useful, 
whilst the irrefragable testimony they have contributed towards the 
establishment of theories, and the confirmation of ambiguous points have 
caused them to be recognized as one of the most important factors of 
archaeology. 



II. 

The seal was not an invention of the Middle Ages. Its existence then 
implied a classic and historical usage. As abundant proof remains to show, 
its origin, coinciding to a large extent with the birth of civilization, is of 
the remotest antiquity. Civilization, inter aUa^ incited trade and commerce, 
formulated laws, enforced them and the fidelity of contract, recognized 
certain rights of property, involved the transfer of estate, the exchange of 
merchandise, and delegation of authority. Of even a limited system, as 
the first was of necessity, these were the early fruits. To assist in 
effecting and guaranteeing them some mechanism was simultaneously and 
urgently demanded. This need the seal was designed to and did satisfy : 
hence in common with most inventions it sprang m>m necessity. Its use 
was not restricted to any particular nation or nations. As soon as the 
elements of civilization aggregated, from the formation of the mighty 
kingdom of Babylonia onwards, its services were enlisted — at times it 
was independentlv devised — ^by all. Neither was the seal the exclusive 
possession of particular estates or dignities ; answering a common need the 
practice it implicated always embraced aU classes and so continued through- 
out the ages. In constant use, one of its chief requirements was that it 
should be made of some durable substance. Both stone and metal 
answered the stipulation and were almost invariably employed. To 
forward its purpose it was also vitgl that it should bear some device which 
implied its possessor, would distinguish and forbid estrangement ftom him. 
From this necessity, the circumstance that the medium chosen afforded 
a vehicle for artistic expression, and finally from that perception of the 



GREEK TREATMENT OF THE SEAL 7 

beautiful always innate in man, the seal at its inception almost was bfX)ught 
into direct rdation with Art the vicissitudes of which it reflected with 
esctraordinary fidelity, and without the aid of exterior suggestion inspired, 
at epochs remote h'om each other, two distinct and superb branches, 
namely, the classic Art of gem engraving, and that of the Middle Ages 
primarily under notice* 

The term ^^seal" in common language is employed in a dtial sense* 
One distinguishes the die upon which the design is engraved, the other 
the wax, or yielding substance which receives the impression. Each 
exercised distinct functions, which varied with national custom and modified 
with time. Those of the first comprised, in addition to its main purpose, 
service as a personal badge, oBicM ornament, talisman, or symbol of 
deputed force. The ofilices of the second embraced the preservation of the 
aecrecy of written knowledge, the authentication of documents, the main- 
tenance intact of goods and chattels, and amongst Eastern nations assisted 
in the incarceration of captives and prisoners. To ancient and modern 
writers and poets — ^from the scribes of Genesis to Siprinburne — ^both seal 
and impression have contributed a rich and telling metaphor. To-day the 
first continues as a symbol of undisputed integrity. 

From the earliest known period down to the fourth, or fifth century 
which succeeded the dawn of the Christian Era (when, as will be seen here- 
after another description of seal interfered with its absolute use) engraved 
stones amongst all peoples almost invariably served as seals. At 
the first and for a very long time subsequent, whilst the development 
of the Art of stone engraving was visibly progressive, their designs were as 
a rule but mere incisions which largely partook of the grotesque. Other 
nations as civilization advanced commendably treated it, but it remained 
for ancient Greece, which carried Art to a degree of perfection unparalleled 
and unsurpassed when it attained that signal state of culture for which it 
was renowned, to raise the craft to the dignity of a perfected Art That 
seals should share in the artistic fullness of the Greeks was but normal. 
At their hands it became a vehicle for the loftiest artistic expression. 
They produced a vast niunber designed and executed with superlative 
skill and beauty, the use of which long survived the Roman conquest, 
Roman dominance, and the Roman fall. Under Hellenic prepossession 
Roman workmanship reached a state of almost equal excdlence. But 
to that influence it was not long sensitive. The swiftness with 
which Roman Art ascended found its contrary sin in the speed with 
which it sank. By the time Constantine assiuned the purple its debase- 
ment was complete. In the descent the Art of gem engraving relapsed 
almost into its primitive barbarity, to slumber until the Renaissance. 
Assisted by stones of contemporary fiishioning, antique gems supplied the 



8 INTRODUCTION 

need for seals in Europe during the period indicated, and partially from 
thence until the time ot Charlemagne. 

As time expanded, states and nations arose, and peoples increased the 
practice we are heeding in all its primitive importance co-ordinately extended. 
To the comparative scarcity of classic gems were coupled, after the decline 
of the Art, the difficulties encountered in the contemporary manufacture 
of stone seals and hence arose the urgency of some auxiliary or alternative 
process. This was partially met for a wnile by the bulla, a disc of metal 
circular or oval in shape, struck like a coin or rudely cut (occasionally used in 
ancient Greece for securing the contents of wine amphorae), which was 
usually attached to documents by cords or bands passed through holes in 
both. Originally and generally it was of lead. That its revival was the 
innovation of a date posterior to the disintegration of the Roman Empire 
allows of but slight question, but as to the precise period and whether due 
to Imperial, Papal, or Patriarchal forethought although archeology largely 
supports the second are doubtful points. Whatever the time or origin of 
its resuscitation the bulla at a very early period Was employed as a second 
method of verification by Byzantine Emperors, Popes, and Eastern 
Patriarchs, and later by Prankish and other European monarchs. To the 
first three dignities it would appear it was at first limited, but gradually 
it lost all class distinction. 

But that such an universal and continuously widening necessity as 
sealing undoubtedly was could always be satisfactorily met either by gems of 
antique manufacture (gradually becoming even rarer), stones contem- 
poraneously worked (crude and infrequent as they were) or bullae (which 
participated more in the character of coins than seals, each impression involv- 
ing considerable labour and inconvenience), was altogether inconsistent. A 
mechanism having the fullest effect but capable of simple operation was 
yet requisite. This need the metal matrix was designed to supply. Its 
superiority and utility the uninterrupted usage from its introduction until 
the present, when only in corporate circumstances it is demanded, fully 
attests. After its introduction the bulla continued to be occasionally (as 
regards the Papacy entirely) employed, this, however, was but the result of 
idiosyncracy. For all purposes, practically, the metal matrix superseded 
it and the graven stone as well. The precise period of its invention and 
by whom devised are questions involved in obscurity, but (save, of course, 
as r^ards the bulla and the metal settings which commonly encircled the 
stone signets of the Prankish sovereigns) that metal as a medium for 
seals, altiiough isolated examples earlier are not unknown, was not brought 
into a request in the least general until after the end of the Carlovingian 
race there cannot be much doubt. To the Capet Henry I., who 
ascended the throne of France a.d. 1033, the actual adoption was probably 



ANGLO-SAXON PERIOD 9 

due. He commenced the grand series of French royal seals in metal, 
and thus incited its application which from thence in a short time spread 
through Europe. 

That the Anglo-Saxons had some acquaintance with the principle of 
sealing there is suiSicient testimony to prove. The first known and 
undoubted instance of its exercise was an authentication of a charter 
granted to the Abbey of St. Denis, France, by OfBt, King of the Mercians 
(A.D. 790), who sealed it with a stone signet, incised with a crowned profile 
bust. Other monarchs upon occasion used antique gems. Ethelwulf 
(a.d. 836-58) and Ethelred (a.d. 866-71) both did so. King Edgar 
(a.d. 960) employed for the purpose an antique with profile set similarly 
with those of the early French Kings. G>enwulf of Mercia (a.d. 796-8 1 9) 
issued leaden bullae, which displayed the device borne upon his coinage, 
a small cross moline, as an existing specimen instructs us whUst 
another, and earlier Saxon use of this instrument by Archdeacon Boniface 
(supposed to have been a contemporary of the great St. Wilfrid (a.d. 709), 
who enacted such an important role at the synod of Whitby) is also afforded 
by a surviving example bearing his name and rank. Ethiluuald, Bishop of 
Dunwich (an extinct episcopate), who swayed the crozier a.d. 845-70, 
used a bronze matrix distinguished by an ornamental star of eight points 
alternately leaf-shaped and fieury, with his name and description. The 
monks of Bath, one which displayed the Abbey buildings, attributed 
to the time of the restoration in the tenth century ; those of Durham 
another, sustaining a cross surmounted with a small saltire, assigned to the 
same period or the succeeding century ; the Benedictines of Wilton Priory 
one, held to date from the tenth century, which exhibited the daughter of 
King Edgar, St. Eadgitha or Edith, blessing with one hand and supporting 
a book in the other, ^fric. Earl of the Mercians, is known to have 
possessed a metal matrix (conjectiu-ed to have belonged to Leofric, Earl of 
Mercia, cirta a.d. 985), designed with a curtailed figure having a fillet with 
pendent terminations, holding a sword erect, and wearing a cloak secured by 
a stud. But strange to say, notwithstanding that the instances eniunerated 
seem to imply the existence of a usage, and do attest a cognizance of all three 
classes of seal defined the custom among the Anglo-Saxons, general as 
it was elsewhere, was neither prescriptive, frequent, or constitutionallv 
essential. The cases cited, and others if they are to be discovered, 
are attributable to foreign influence, or were concessions to foreign custom. 
As a rule the Heptarchial rulers and ecclesiastics formally attested their 
docvunents, as illiterates do to this day, by the simple affixing of a cross a 
practice not wanting in religious significance, but altogether unsatisfiu:tory 
and unreliable. It was nevertheless recognized and followed by all 
classes. It has been contended that the metal examples immediately 



lo INTRODUCTION 

following the Conquest betray in their execution an Art though crude 
which had gone through some development In point of fact these are of 
the very rudest. 

That the practice of sealing, construed at its widest and in its 
general utility, was introduced into England from France a few years 
antecedent to the Norman invasion cannot be well disputed. An 
intimate connection between this country and Normandy (hence with 
France), consequent upon the exile of £thelred the Reddess and his 
children, existed at the time Cnut ruled the land. By the death of 
Harthacnut, his son, the Danish house became extinct whereupon the 
Witan called upon Edward to reign. At the Court of his uncle Duke 
Richard, the Confessor had spent the whole of his youth. To all intents 
he was a Norman. After his accesssion he bestowed upon his foreign 
friends and ecclesiastics exalted offices and bishoprics, and introduced to his 
court Norman ideas, habits, and customs. Amongst the latter the practice 
of sealing — general in France ftom the rise of that kmgdom onwards 
— ^was probably comprehended. The king, in emulation of Henry I. had 
a broad seal contrived for official use of metal, similar to that of the French 
monarch but varied of course in its conditions. To this circumstance, no 
doubt, the institution of the custom in England is primarily due. From 
thence it came to be recognized as a legal formality. Its growth was 
gradual. Although firmly rooted, to the closing years of the eleventh 
century it was far from commonly exercised. In the following it 
considerably expanded. At the beginning of the thirteenth it had become 
wholly established, not only as a national convention but as a legal 
necessity. ' 

Since, as before stated, they afforded for a long while—execution by 
autograph was a much later innovation ; Richard 11. was the first sovereign 
to connrm by signature, but long after he varied the fashion seals still 
retained their original value— the sole means of documentary authentication, 
during the Midme Ages the importance and utility of seals were singularly 
great They not only supplied a necessary official mechanism, out in 
the conduct of the ordinary transactions of life encountered and satisfied, as 
they had done anciendy, a common need. The use suffered no class or 
restriction whatsoever. Besides the monarch, officers of state, nobles, 
knights, ecclesiastics (both for functional and personal purposes) shared in 
it with the people and bodies corporate, civil and ecclesiastic. Some 
indication of its gencralitv in the times of which we write is afforded bv 
the large number of seal impressions of all kinds, and offices preserved. 
When we consider their friable nature in conjunction with thdr 
antiquity the insight becomes easily enlarged. The iniportance of the seal 
was superlative. Every precaution was necessary to frustrate any attempt 



THE "CHAUCER" OF THE ARTS ii 

to ijlegitmately exercise it. Consequently it was guarded, and cherished with 
especial care, and often made to rely largely upon an intricate design. 
Official documents under seal were definea if closed as "letters secret," 
if open for exhibition " letters patent." Hence these l^;al phrases. 

In Greece the usage, as we have noticed, inspired one of the richest 
of classic Arts which Kome for a while proloi^ed. For a while the 
perfect union of Art and necessity prevailed, but n'om the decline of the 
Art referred to an absolute divorce existed until the medieval period had 
weU advanced. Then the practice incited, as already hinted, another of 
considerable beauty and excellence, bearing an affinity to, yet widely 
diverse from the antique — ^the minute working of metal in iniaglio 
which re-established the alliance for a considerable epoch. To our own 
country this qwunt, medieval craft was not peculiar. In France, 
Germany, and elsewhere matrices were £aishioned with abundant skill 
and in commendable beauty. But England directed continental styles, 
and here during the finest period it attained both in design and 
execution the highest superiority. Viewed therefore ftt)m the loftiest 
artistic standard it may be well regarded as a national Art. To sculpture, 
obviously, it sustains a relationship not over remote. Nevertheless as a 
distinct Art it is entided to, and occupies an independent position, and 
that one of considerable altitude. The rormer has been beautifully defined 
as the ** Homer " of the Arts. With a reason of equal force we might 
well term this in question the ** Chaucer " of them. 

Having regard both to conception and craft, as we indicated at the 
commencement, although numerous civil examples might be adduced as 
capable exponents of the Art they involved, it was seals of an ecclesiastical 
character which reached the highest grade of perfection. And it is their 
artistic development only, as falling four-square with the lines of the 
present work, we are here concerned to relate. But we might permissibly 
conclude our remarks upon the former with a few observations in reference 
to the design and historical and archsBological features of their remains. 
The seal of the Confessor bore obversdy and reversely a crowned and 
enthroned figure with sceptre; that of William I. the same device 
obversely, reversely the king on horseback with lance and shield — ^themes 
which anbrded the chief devices of the seals of English sovereigns thence 
unto the present. As the Art enunciated they became elaborated with 
subordinate ornament both devotional and graceful, to disappear as it 
declined. As if to distinguish the splendid hero of a splendid Agincourt 
the seal of Henry V. is unsurpassed for beauty amongst the royal 
series. Those of nobles, knights, and private persons to the close of the 
twelfth century were distinguished chiefly by representations of saints, other 
efiigies, animals, birds, flowers, stars and crescents, ornamental generally) 



/ 



12 INTRODUCTION 

unheraldic whoUy, but often vested with a symbolic intent In the next 
these designs were continued and augmented by rebuses (opportunities of 
conveying which the medievalist rarely avoided), grotesques, and sacred 
themes. Merchants and artificers frequently exhibited badges implying the 
nature of their commerce, and implements their occupation. The introduc- 
tion of Heraldry eflected a considerable and important change. From thence 
it became the rashion to illustrate seals with armorial insignia. Those of 
the armigerous class alone were, of course, thus aflected. The democracy 
continued the irregular and incoherent . exhibition of original subjects 
although at times an armorial construction was aimed at. Seals of 
corporate towns were frequently topographical and pictorial, and conveyed 
representations, at times more graphic than faithful, at others accurate 
presentments of the localities to which they appertained — ^walls, castles, 
cathedrals, churches, gates, bridges, rivers, and other characteristics. This 
class of seal was not armorially influenced until about the latter half of the 
fourteenth century when the original device often passed into the region 
of heraldic illustration. Devotional subjects were not unknown, as the 
admirable seal of Carlisle, which displays the Madonna and Child, bears 
witness. 

The royal series — violated with that of Charles I. to give place to 
those of the Commonwealth, Oliver and Richard Cromwell and resumed 
with the Second Charles — ^has been preserved entire. Historically it reveals 
the gradual political and territorial construction of the British Empire, and 
recalls the claim to France and its abandonment. Recounts the rise and 
fall of the houses of Normandy and Planta^enet, Lancaster and York, 
Tudor and Stuart, besides other national changes, conditions, and 
developments. Describes the incitement and expansion of the medisval 
conception of Christianity, and the final abolition of saintly intercession 
together with the parallel growth of ecclesiastical influence, and its 
overthrow. Eloquently illustrates the rise of the Gothic perception, its 
apotheosis, decline, decay, and indicates the trend of the Rennaissance. 
Several examples of the Queen's consort have also been preserved. These 
include those of Maud of Scotland and Alice of Brabant, the Eleanors of 
Provence and Castile, Margaret and Isabella of France, Phillipa of 
Hainhault, the Anne's of Bohemia and Denmark, and Catherine of 
Braganza. Some supply the descents of the queens, and all con- 
tribute valuable data concerning styles of queenly costume and their 
chronology. National vicissitudes and political changes are also perpetuated 
in the remains of other state seals. The significance of those employed 
for " Lands beyond the Tweed," " for Calais," for royal absence (recalling 
wars with France), by the collector of the Tenth granted to Heniy V., the 
Coiu-t of Augmentation of Crown Revenues (temp. Henry VIIL), the 



VALUE OF LAY DESIGN 13 

Parliament of the G)mmonwealth, and of the G^uncil appointed by it, 
need no elucidation. From other remains such as those of the Steward 
and Marshall, and G)roner of the King's household, and Lord Chamberlain, 
of the Courts of Exchequer, King's Bench, Common Pleas, Wards and 
Liveries, Justices in Eyre, and Cursitors of the Court of Chancery, for 
subsidies on cloth, and delivery of wool and hides, of the receipt of 
Exchequer, supervisor of Crown Lands, Port of London, Statute Staple of 
Westminster, customs, and from the seals Pro reeognitione debitorum^ and 
Pro Debitis recuperandis we obtain an insight of offices, and courts now 
obsolete, to the antiquity of such as survive, and to the judicial machinery, 
administration, finance, fashions, customs, and polity which obtained in the 
ages which contrived them. Such remains upon which armour is 
presented incidentally explain the conditions of medieval warfare, and 
faithfully shew the progressive alterations which occurred in this method 
of military protection from the flat-ring, trellised, or mascled and chain 
mail to the innovation of plate armour. Similarly, alterations in the 
pattern of the shield may be traced. In some instances the seals of 
corporate towns furnish important evidence in regard to their early 
defences and buildings. But to summarize here all the historical interests 
and archaeological values of civil seals is neither feasible nor consistent. 
Indubitably their chief importance is armorial, forasmuch as they contribute 
the most estimable and copious exposition of the science involved, and 
constitute the most reliable exponents of its principles. Upon them in 
fact its only authentic history is inscribed, and that with a completeness which 
leaves nothing to be desired, and with an accuracy which forbids question. 

For increased security official seals were frequently composed of two 
parts, each with a distinctive device. A document authenticated by both, 
being doubly attested, was necessarily of greater reliability. When a seal 
was of one part only the officer's personal signet was occasionally used 
simultaneously thus forming an obverse and reverse, but this practice ¥^as 
not general. Seals were affixed in two ways. The most ancient 
method was to make a cruciform incision on the right hand side of 
the inscribed face of the document ; the triangles thus arising were turned 
backwards, the molten wax inserted through the square orifice, flattened, 
and the die placed thereon, the tongues of parchment assisting to maintain 
the impression in place. This system was superseded in the twelfth 
century. From thence a slit was cut at the foot of the instrument, and 
a narrow strip of parchment or plaited silk passed through it ; the ends 
gathered, the wax placed around them, and the matrix, or matrices 
impressed upon it. To guard against breakage they were frequently 
swathed in leaves, rushes, or twisted paper and in the case of 
lai^e seals placed in boxes. A word as to the material employed for 



INTRODUCTION 

taking impressions. In Egypt and other countries of classical antiquity 
day was used, and in the Byzantine Enipire as late as the eighth century 
an earth of some description. In France during Merovingian, and 
Girloyingian periods beeswax tinted yellow and red was employed. In 
England at nrst pure beeswax answered the demand. Later, lyhilst it 
continued to be used for state seals, and in some monastic instances, it was 
superseded by a composition in which wax only participated, coloured green 
and red. Sometimes impressions were made in the tinted composition and 
then embedded in masses of white ; so framed the seal had a very pleasing 
eSkcL The wax, or composition was softened over a chafing-brazier. Its 
preparation for use with the Great seal was entrusted to an important 
official, styled Clerk of the Chafe Wax. 

The gravers of ecclesiastical seals we have conjectured were monks. 
It is more than passing strange that the designers of the lay have passed 
hence without leaving a suggestion as to their identity. Beyond evidence 
of their work, and that in abundance, we have no record of them. 
Yet in mediaeval times they must have constituted as distinct a branch of 
the mechanical community as ever did the gem engravers in ancient Hellas. 
For the protection of their interests and the advancement of their craft, 
however, no guild as far as we can learn was ever instituted. 



III. 

In the century during which the practice their use involved first 
became recognized as a legal formality in England seals were applied to 
ecclesiastical service. As much is incontrovertibly testified by the archi- 
episcopal, and prelatial remains of those employed by Ansdm of Canterbury, 
Gundulph of Rochester, William de S. Carilepho and Ralph Flambard of 
Durham, and the capitular vestiges of those of Canterbury, Winchester, 
Norwich, Worcester, and Exeter. Its growth, too, amplified equally. 
In time it attained such dimensions that there was scarce an officer 
of the Church, nor an ecclesiastical office which did not adopt it as 
essential to the government of the Church in the transaction of its politic, 
and domestic afiairs, which for five centuries from its innovation, it is 
superfluous to point out, were only second to those of the state, and 
did not always preserve that relation. For primatial purposes it was 
exercised by Archbishops, and provisionally when their sees became vacant, 
by the Prerogative Courts, Chancery-, Commissary-, and Vicar-generals, and 
in the premier province by the Court of Arches, At Durham by the 



MONASTIC USE 15 

powerful Bishop Princes-Palatine. For diocesan functions by Bishops and 
their Generals, Chancellors, and Treasurers, and additionally for their 
Exchequers and for the purpose of sequestration. By Chapters and their 
ChamMrkuns, by the Consistorial Courts, as well as by Deans, Sub-deans, 
Archdeacons, Rural Deans, Prebendaries, Surrogates, Suocentors, and 
Vicars choral. 

In A.D. 1307 King Edward L decreed that all conventual establishments 
should employ a common seal, and that instruments issued by them not 
thus authenticated should be void. Long before this, however, the 
majori^ of monastic houses were so equipped. That as early as the 
eleventh century the system had been adopted by these centres fragments 
of the seals of the abbeys of York, Chertsey, Canterbury, Sherborne, 
Athelney, Tavistock, Hartland, Bardney, and Abingdon, and the priories 
of Twynham, Southwark, Wallingford, Eye, and Sele remain to attest. 
Reference, it will be recalled, has been made to certaun examples monastic 
in character of the tenth century, but these were isolated exceptions called 
to prove a rule of comparative non-usaee in Anglo-Saxon times. All the 
instances here mentioned are ascribed to the years which immediately 
followed the Norman conouest. It must not, however, be inferred from their 
recital that monastic use of the seal within the period defined was so limited, 
but on the other hand a deep-rooted and gradually expanding custom. 
Generally speaking, since the wax of which the remains adduced was softened 
to receive the impressions — ^when the Conqueror and Rufus handled the 
destinies of state — nine hundred years almost have passed. In face of this and 
other circumstances, it is remarkable that any examples at all of so distant an 
epoch should be preserved. So that whilst the list given enumerates about 
all the surviving monastic vestiges of the eleventh century it is most reasonable 
to conjecture that seals were employed simultaneously by other conventual 
establishments, of which we have neither trace nor record. Similarly may 
be deduced from the increased volume of remains, wide in their dis- 
tribution, conventual use had greatly extended in the succeeding century. 
From evidence of the same character it is clear that in the thirteenth it 
practically prevailed. Obviously, therefore, the edict of Edward I., which 
expressea the necessity of the law, created no fresh ordinance but implied 
an established custom, being provoked most probably by its evasion on the 
part of certain foundations. Monastic, apart from secular ecclesiastical 
usage, was as extennve. Chapter Generals, Provincials, and Ministers of 
the Benedictines, Augustinians, Dominicans, Carmelites, Franciscans, and 
Trinitarians found in seals an equal necessity in the government of their 
houses. For the proper conduct of their internal concerns, temporal and 
spiritual, they were also used by Abbots and Priors, Abbesses and Prioresses, 
Chapters, Treasurers, Receivers, Sacristans, as well as by deputy and 



1 6 INTRODUCTION 

subordinate officers. The corporate seal was sometimes fashioned of two 
pieces^ but generally of one. For documents of reduced importance, a 
secondary seal termed the Ad eausas was employed instead of the chief. 

Almost every known description of metal was requisitioned in the 
manufacture of seals — gold, silver, bronze, etc., but the chief medium, 
especially in the case of large seals, although they were not unconmionly 
or silver, was an alloy which corresponded to brass. But rarely, jet, ivory, 
and bone with other substances were adopted. The process of cutd^ 
or engraving was effected wholly by hand, sharp small gravers bdng 
the sole implements used. In later times the characters of the legend 
may have been inserted by the aid of punches, but generally the 
description, always the design was engraved by hand alone. 

At the birth of all the Arts the spirit perforce had to contend with 
the inability of the artist to give it adequate expression, and consequendy 
suffered through the inevitable rudeness of articulation. As time advances 
we find the struggle between soul and crudity continuing to wage. In the 
contest the uncouth gradually weakens. Eventually the cunning and skill 
of the craftsman triumphs ; the spirit bursts its chains, and soars in the 
perfection of expression. Neither the artistic instinct nor genius of the 
Pisano*s, Fra Angelico, or Raphael were spontaneously created in either. 
They but marked the attainment of a higher stage in the standard of Art. 
Unavoidably to the rule defined ecclesiastical seal Art responded, but, as we 
have marked already, to that gorgeous and beautiful perception, the 
Gothic, it is primarily indebted for ddiverance from its initial strivings and 
the fullness of its subsequent life. 

The quality of a particular result depended, it is patent, upon the 
individual artificer — ^upon his skill, or lack of it, and the measure of the 
artistic capacity of his temperament. Such factors naturally produced 
good work in comparatively early periods, inferior — for it must not be 
overlooked that a large number or ecclesiastical seals were of debased 
style and execution — after the high-water mark of excellence had been 
reached. Nevertheless it is not difficult to trace, step by step, definitive 
and epochal developments of the Art under notice. During the century 
in which it originated (eleventh) in pretension it was lowly, in effect harsh 
and unstudied. Imagination was scarcely drawn upon, and obvious laws 
escaped recognition. The seal artist laboured, as others travailed then 
and for a considerable period thence, under a woeful ignorance of anatomy. 
Altogether, its results marked the scarcely intelligible utterance of artistic 
infancy, nevertheless they pledged a later coherency, for already design, 
very limited in subject and most grotesque, did not entirely lack virtue. 
If we consider analogously the abject state of all the other Arts, except 
architecture, at this period the development of the next century was. 



DEVELOPMENT OF CRAFT 17 

comparatiyely speaking, remarkable. Although the ludicrous had not 
wholly departed it had l)ecome manifest that the engraver wielded his 
tools with greater freedom, confidence, and aptitude. Ratio and perspective 
claimed from him more consideration ; the nature of his physical 
knowledge had deepened ; his artistic perception and imaginative faculties 
were aroused — ^the great possibilities of the Art were ckwning upon a 
mediseval mind ever receptive of artistic ideas. These possibilities 
the thirteenth century proved. In the highest examples the laws of 
proportion, anatomy, posture, and perspective were well r^^arded. The 
mediaeval imagination ruled as untrammeled as the exigencies of the Art 
allowed. From the rude beginnings we have noticed it attained its loftiest, 
and anticipated, as we have endeavoured to demonstrate, a corresponding 
perfection in Italian painting and sculpture — and, may be, English 
sculpture also. Most noteworthy of all, perhaps, was the rapid 
improvement evidenced in anatomy, facial expression, and the draping 
of costume. In the fourteenth century the grace, delicacy, and excellence 
of the Art were sustained, and in the matter of ornament a greater richness 
achieved. And similarly in the early part of the fifteenth century, but in 
the latter it bes^an to reveal, beneath a somewhat excited embellishment, a 
decadence. The Gothic spirit which had inspired and nourished it was on 
the wane. The sixteenth century reached, and it came under the potent 
speU of the Renaissance, which proved, as already noted, in this 
instance an eclipse. Thus obscured, its condition subsequently became 
as melancholy as gem engraving after the fall of the JEmpire. Art 
and necessity were once more estranged. To realize how complete 
was the disassociation, we have only to compare with the finest monastic 
examples some of the capitular abominations of Henry VIII.'s foundations. 
Happily the scope of this work does not demand the pursuit of its descent 
through the sixteenth, and succeeding centuries. The destruction of 
monastic houses destroyed, of course, the growth of the conventual the most 
interesting class of seal. The " Great Surrender," when many of the 
houses were relinquished to the King under them, was the last occasion on 
which they were employed, save in a few instances where adapted to 
suit other conditions. Upon some, obviously, as much pains were 
lavished as ever sculptor or engraver of Greece or Rome, or sculptor 
or painter of later Italy expended upon their masterpieces. Of^the 
angelical painter, Fra Giovanni da Fiesole, a monk simple of habit, 
spiritual in thought, in whose work (distinguished by the expression of 
every shade of devotional feeling in the countenances of his figures) 
more than in that of any of his predecessors the beauty of the artist's 
soul was reflected, it is related that he never took up his brush without 
prayer, or painted a Crucifixion without weeping. That some monastic 
c 



1 8 INTRODUCTION 

seal examples caught and reflected the devout disposition of their 
artists is apparent. 

Reflecting the principles, circumstances, and conditions of Christianity 
medisBvaUy apprehended, the domain of ecclesiastical seal design, as we 
have stated, was of some comprehensiveness. The rule almost invariably 
pursued was, that in the case of oflicial seals the •^K^m^ cKrni1(j \^^r gnty^g 
aflinity with the office, in corporate cases ?ome f Nation to the body to 
which it appertained. Throughout, the representation of such saints who 
were regarded as the especial patrons of particular Cathedrals, Abbey Churches, 
monastic establishments, and dignitaries enjoyed an especial prominence. 
Where they occurred a particular efibrt was made to convey some incident, 
l^endary or otherwise, in the life, or trait in the character of the saint 
involved. The artist in this ¥^as gready enabled by that beautiful 
system of symbolism which assigns to each a distinctive attribute or 
emblem, and the presence of which — ^in conjunction, if needed, with local 
conditions — ^renders identification somewhat easy. 

At the beginning, as might have been anticipated, and as we have 
already hinted, the range of^ design was narrowly limited. Episcopal, 
abbatial, and seals of corresponding character merely displayed upon a 
plain field the figure of an ecclesiastic, vested with equivalent dignity, who 
raised his right hand in benediction, and grasped a crozier or staff with 
the left — a scheme which constituted their chief decoration until the latter 
end of the fourteenth century. Monastic illustration of the eleventh 
probably answered to this broad classification : — (i) entire portrayals of the 
tutelary saint similar to the figures upon episcopal seals (exemplified by the 
seal of Eye Priory), or (2), in imitation of the regal style, depicted 
enthroned (bv that of Bardney Abbey) ; (3) elevations of churches, and 
monastic buildings viewed from various aspects, and shewing porches, 
windows, towers, and turrets (instanced by that of Abbotsbury Abbey), 
and (4), kindred elevations, augmented by the half-length figure of die 
patron located on or above the roof (like those of Norwich and 
Winchester). During this epoch, and thence throughout a common 
device was an outstretched arm which issued from the side, and grasped a 
staff, cross, or crozier. Originally, ornament construed in a mere 
decorative sense there was none, but as the century closed its birth was 
attested by the addition of stars, crosses, crescents, groups of tiny dots, 
and, where the Blessed Virgin appeared, by the idy, chastity's emblem. 
The character, and office of Mary the Virgin afibrded the mediaeval artist, 
if we judge from the point of Art alone, one of the happiest of themes, 
one he ever delighted to treat. In the realm of seal design, sometimes 
alone but more frequendy in conjunction with the Holy Child, the Blessed 
Virgin occupied by fsir the highest position, in various conceptions such 



DEVELOPMENT OF DESIGN 19 

as maiden, nursing mother, Regina Cceli^ Auxilium CbrisHanarum^ Stella 
MatuHna and Consolatrix afflictorum. The devout of the time plumbed 
the very fount of poetry to find her exquisite titles ; similarly, the 
contemporary seal artist sounded the well of artistic feeling in delineating 
her and the Child. Beautiful actions and postures resulted. The Infimt 
variously stands upon her knees, nestles in her arms, seeks nourishment at 
her breast, holds her hand, grasps her head-dress child-like, toys with her 
hair, engages her in play, whispers to her, or stretches out Its tiny 
Hands in wistful entreaty. The Virgin and Child first occur upon 
the seals of Worcester Cathedral, and St. Mary's Abbey, York. 

From the restrictions of the forgoing, in the twelfth century design 
escaped and enjoyed in that and the following an expansion which, beyond 
a mere indication of the lines it pxu^sued, rejects adequate description 
here. Moreover, whilst subject, like music, had perforce to acknowledge 
the limitations of an octave, the harmonies of disposition were as variabk. 
All the original types were repeated. They suggested, indeed, the broad 
paths design was in general to follow, and from them it generated. In the 
representation of ecclesiastical buildings both a greater accuracy and 
fulness of detail were evinced. And now the figure of the patron saint 
was often located within the centralporch, and the idea was happy since it 
implied an invitation to enter. The number of saints portrayed with 
their emblems was occasionally doubled, even trebled, and n-om this 
period henceforward (to signi^ his humility, and explain the relation 
subsisting between the two) the insertion of an ecclesiastical, or monastic 
figure (within an archway beneath), supplicating the patron began to be 
general — ^an interesting illustration (although not exactly typic^ because 
here the subordinate figure is that of a saint) is afforded by the 
seal of Pershore Abbey, which displayed the Virgin and Child enthroned 
between SS. Peter and Paul, above a trefoiling containing St. Eadburga 
with chalice and book. Vestment and costume were sketched with 
more detail and greater richness. The platforms upon which the 
figures stood, often formed of little Norman arcades, were designed more 
ornately. Detail, both ornamental and symbolic, was contributed by stars 
and crescents, miniatiu'e churches, saintly emblems, and panels, varied in 
form, containing heads of monks and saints. In isolated delineations of 
Christ, He was presented, it may be taken as a rule, seated upon a rainbow 
with the Hands raised to bless. The Blessed Virgin is observed alone, a 
circiunstance which does not lack significance, upon the Priory seal of 
Yeddingham, where she stands with a lily in one hand, the gospels in the 
other, and also upon those of the Cluniac Abbey of Northampton, the 
priories of Swinhey and Wayburn and the nunnery of Chateris. 
As distinct devices emblematic figures, such as the Agnus Dei with 



20 INTRODUCTION 

long cross and banner flag, Dove with extended winp^s, and the Eagle 
of S. John the Evangelist rising; with an inscribed scroll in its beak, were 
introduced, chiefly to distinguish seals of minor importance. Angels, too, 
gracefully postured, censing or supporting, were at times made 
attendant. Besides the types and styles outlined some variety of sacred 
and devotional pictures were admitted within this period — ^The Virgin, 
or an ecclesiastic reading at a lectern, the Annunciation, saints and others 
solemnizing Mass, Noah's Ark (vested with metaphoric value), priests 
hearingconfession or kneeling before the Virgin and other Saints, and the 
Holy Trinity, symbolically conveyed, are themes met with. The brutal 
murder of Archbishop aBecket upon the consecrated stones of his 
Cathedral by the minions of Henry II. yielded the artist a popular 
subject. From the very banning, as we have seen, architecture 
formed an important constituent of design, and as we have indicated 
subsequently influenced it materially. Its original introduction is obviously 
accounted for ; its eflfect, the crude representation of sacred elevations. 
Towards the close of the century under notice the ecclesiastical seal 
artist b^n the erection of canopies over the figures he was portraying. 
The architectural style which prevailed in Europe during the thirteenth, 
fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries is distinguished as Gothic. After 
the fire of a.d. 1174 William of Sens commenced the rebuilding of 
Canterbury Cathedral in the light of it, and approximately from thence- 
forward Gothic architectural ornament, essentially beautiful in itself, and 
lending itself readily and appropriately for the purpose, became a 
permanent (that is until the Art declined), and assuredly one of the 
most exquisite features. How the artist was lead to invoke it is easily 
deduced. Shordy after the introduction of elevations, in some cases 
they were removed higher up the field to admit of a saintly figure 
being inserted — the erection or canopies was a development of that idea. 
So much is clear from early examples, which invariably show them as 
structures resembling churches. 

In the next century, when all the elements of design were treated 
with greater elaboration, and design itself partook more of the graphic, 
canopies gradually became enriched with el^ant and minute tracery, designed 
at times with much gorgeousness and beauty. Often they formed aroules 
of numerous divisions of one, two, and even three tiers. The statuettes 
which they contained were deeply sunk (yielding in consequence relief 
impressions of admirable depth), and presented in graceful and characteristic 
draperies. They expressed different tones of religious feeling, and exhibited 
every variety or devotional dispositioa. What some of the most artistic 
seals resembled were miniatures of magnificent altar-pieces. Occasionally 
a fine and beautiful effect was ingeniously obtained (see Boxgrave and 



VALUE OF MONASTIC DESIGN 21 

Southwick Priories, Plates IV. and XXXVIIL). Instead of a single, or 
double piece the seal ¥^as composed of several. Two displayed the figures 
only, the remainder supplied the tracery ; impressions were obtained from 
each, and built up when the statuettes were revealed through the perforated 
architectural work To Bishoprics, Abbeys, and other conventual 
institutions at an early time in the history of Heraldry, armorial insignia 
were assigned, and in this century the heraldic shield, thenceforward 
an important and general feature, was introduced. All available space 
was now utilized in the addition of detail, ornamental, symbolic, or 
appropriate, and beauty considerably advanced by the adoption of 
diapering, a surface decoration lars^ely employed in stained glass and 
sculpture. The scope of sacred suojects greadv extended. In addition 
to those enumerated as obtaining in the twelfth century, the Nativity, 
Assumption of the Blessed Virgin, her Coronation, the NoR me tangere^ 
Crucifixion, Resurrection, St. Martin dividing his cloak, the martyrdoms of 
SS. Alban and Edmund with various other religious conceptions appeared. 
The design, as a rule, ¥^as enclosed by a l^end which denoted the 
name, dignity, and title of the ecclesiastic or monastic corporation 
employing the seal. In addition, often in metre, mottoes of a sacred 
character, pious ejaculations, petitions to saints, confessions of fiiith, and 
benedictions occasionally accompanied it, or were so cut in the matrices of 
dual seals that when an impression was made it appeared on the rim. 
The lettering was frequendy of great beauty. In style the characters fall 
chronologicsdly into four classes, videlicet Roman, Rude Lombardic, 
Good Lombardic, and Black Letter. 



IV. 

In the first part of this Introduction we mentioned in general 
terms that seals were endued with much historical and archaeological 
value. The qualities of the civil class we have, in both respects, briefly 
demonstrated. Upon their artistic merits the worth of those monastic 
in character do not merely rest. They, in common with others, contribute 
facts of peculiar importance, and reflect and perpetuate old-time circum- 
stances, conditions, and sympathies. 

Artistically speaking, their value is not alone intrinsic, but extrinsic 
since they exhibit with some completeness and in aU fidelity the artistic 
spirit of the ages in which they were contrived, assist in unveiling its 
nature, and register its pulsations. 



22 INTRODUCTION 

Their second appraisement is perhaps architectural. Valuable indica- 
tions of the style and form of religious buildings, either eternally eflaced 
or long superseded by others of greater magnificence and dimensions, are 
afforded by such of the early corporate examples as exhibit structural 
elevations. Those executed within the Gothic era, illustrate with truth and 
fullness the development of architecture so discriminated, and reveal with 
equal clearness all that that beautiful style, enunciated with few exceptions by 
the grandest Churches of Europe standing to-day, signified and conveyed. 
They fall naturally into the three classes into which Gothic in England is 
divided : — Early English, Decorated, and Perpendicular, roundly corre- 
sponding to the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth centuries. From 
their designs so minutely and skilfully drawn, its rise, ascendency, and 
decadence might be almost independendy traced. 

Seal heraldry is well esteemed a beautiful exponent of English 
history. Conventual seal heraldry in particular may not be so highly 
considered. It can scarcely be said to yield assistance in the science 
of family genealogy, yet as an aid in pursuing and illustrating that of 
certain of our destroyed monastic centres it is not to be despised. 
Moreover the personal, doctrinal, and historical associations which gather 
around it renders this aspect of the subject highly interesting. 

By reference to these seals questions which involve ecclesiastical, 
ritual, ornameht, vestments, and insignia distinguishing the various 
dignities within the bosom of the Church (the figures oeing characteristically 
apparelled and distinctly marked) may often be determined. The 
evolution of the mitre, nrom a low cap to the high-peaked construction 
with which we are familiar is shewn with peculiar lucidity. 

A certain biographical interest they do not lack. By them names 
which imply characters as versatile as humanity itself — magnificent and 
mean, simple and subtle, proud and humble, powerful and weak (not 
infrequently finding their weakness in the very greatness of their strength), 
worldy and devout, sensual and austere— of Abbots, Priors, and others 
are preserved. 

As topography loudly attests, cities, towns, and villages in many 
instances originated in monastic houses. Architectural vestiges of such 
are now deplorably scant, and this parentage seals assist local nomenclature, 
ever subject to vicissitude and corruption, in transmitting. 

The relation of the objects under notice to the nation's history does 
not elude definition. With the eleventh century, during the last decade of 
which the first Crusade was entered upon, a period of great religious 
enthusiasm began in England. When we study the life of our ancestors, 
their habits and their times, no feature do we find more clearly 
defined than the intense religious spirit with which they were imbued, and 



DEVOTIONAL ASPECT 23 

the active form in which it found expression. It stands out as the 
Himalaya of the view. Their age was that of faith— of blind faith if 
you will — and ardent devotion. Their God was not the doubtful product 
of some abstruse system of philosophy, nor a theoretic Being accepted by the 
spiritual side of thought and rejected by the scientific. There was an 
entire and magnificent absence of reasoning in the minds of the people. 
He was a Supreme Being whose existence, or Almigh^ potentialities were 
never even so much as questioned. As He was revealed to them, so was 
He accepted — a God of Love, and to be loved, ever ready to succour and 
assist, yet, withal, to be feared with a mighty dread, to be conciliated, 
adored, at all times in every moral circumstance to be invoked, and alwap 
to be considered in human calculation. To this fiiith and ardour and fear 
most of the innimierable sanctuaries with which the land is jewelled stand 
to-day as silent and incontrovertible witnesses, and upon it tnese seals shed 
one of their many vivid lights. 

Besides the Supreme Being, there reigned in the hearts of the people, 
though in a lesser degree, another being, conceded a place in the heavens 
only subordinate to that of the Trinity — a being to be implored with a 
sense of her power, but never to be dreaded, a being primarily to be 
loved and revered, whose name " was lisped by little ones, and ungered 
on the lips of the aged and the dying '* — Mary, the Mother of God. In 
religious seal design, as already stated, she occupied the dominant position. 
The vocal expression of the Art was in fact a hymn sung in her honour, an 
impassioned call to her aid. The extraordinary part she enacted in the 
" World's Tragedy," and the relation in which it necessarily placed her with 
the God-head and Son impelled towards her feelings of intense veneration. 
The suffering, pathos, and sorrow that role involved incited the com- 
passion and attracted the love of the people — ^as Mater Dolorosa she was held 
to be in unison with the entire human race. Other saints there were to 
whom they inclined as design of this character (eloquent of the love and 
reverence experienced towards them) attests but none, if we exclude S. 
Peter, entered with a tithe of the fullness she did, into the common 
life. At least every sixth church in England was raised in her honour ; 
the dedications of hundreds are indefinite, but it is safe to say a large 
proportion of these were also under her protection. To us who live in a 
material age this profound, yet limited surrender to the Rosa mysHca lends 
some difiiculty or comprehension perhaps. But it must be remembered, 
the mother, with all the qualities and powers with which the Church 
endowed her, was accepted as blindly as the Supreme Being. She was 
the Mater Cbristij and the love she naturally bore Him was held to include 
mankind. Devotion to her was perhaps the strongest illumination of 
mediaeval Christianity and religious seals reflect it more intensely than 



24 INTRODUCTION 

any other surviving monuments. It is, indeed, the most potent of 
their lights. 

From the earliest times, until the reign of Henry VIIL, when it was 
sundered, the alliance of England to Rome — fraught with importance 
immeasurable, seeing that it shaped the history and development of the 
country for a thousand years — is also loudly voiced. Up to the period 
marked. Archbishops were usually delineated vested with that insignia of 
obscure origin and vast significance — the pallium — the investiture with, 
and acceptance of which was a claim, and its acknowledgment that the 
powers of the Archbishops were held at the discretion of the Roman 
Pontiff, and that their spiritual jurisdiction was encompassed by that of 
the Pope. The allegiance is also indicated by the occurrence of the 
Papal Tiara, and emphasized by the frequence with which S. Peter appeared, 
not on account of his affecting personality, or out of sympathy with his 
intense humanity, but because in him, and in his successors was recognised 
the head of the Church upon earth. To him, from the motive explained, 
our ancestors constructed a devotion for which they became marked 
throughout Europe. No saint, save the Blessed Virgin entered with such 
penetration* into then- lives. The first g^eat Abbatial Church of 
Canterbury, and the famed minsters of York and Westminster were all 
three dedicated to him as were for a considerable time all the Churches of 
Northumbria. Thirteen Cathedrals and Abbatial Churches raised in his 
honour sent lords to Parliament. About twenty Collegiate Churches, and 
over sixty conventual establishments in their titles paid him particular homage. 
By the sixteenth centiuy the number of his Churches in England was con- 
siderably in excess of a thousand, the city of Lincoln alone possessing seven. 
The phases of popularity of other less significant dedications (notably that of 
S. Thomas of Canterbury) are similarly revealed, and simultaneously is illus- 
trated the marked prevalence of the condemned dogma of saintly intercession. 

To the system of monasticism, so marked a feature of mediaeval life, 
to the establishments, wherein learning, culture, and art were encouraged 
and advanced, hospitality was daily dispensed, where the leper was ted, 
the ignorant taught, and the suffering alleviated, which it raised in endless 
profusion, and architectural magnificence all over the land — which in no 
inconsiderable degree affected its history, and evolution, and, inasmuch as 
their occupants often stood in the relation of judges, landlords, and spiritual 
counsellors towards our forefathers, fashioned largelv the character of its 
people — ^the objects we are describing remain as telling memorials. The 
number preserved, with those of hospitals and purely charitable 
institutions is great, and bears some percentage to the multitude of 
religious foundations which were endowed by the beneficent Col- 
lectively, therefore, they also constitute a cenotaph to the sterling 



LEGENDARY FEATURES 25 

munificence of our ancestors, with which modern charity, speaking 
comparatively, may not compete. 

One of the most charming features of design is the wealth of story, 
drawn from the rich springs of mediaeval legend (which reveals a singular 
exquisiteness, and luxuriance of imagination, and in its poetic fullness and 
loveliness surpasses, upon a proper consideration, even classical mythology 
and the profane folklore of later nations) which, assisted by symbolism, it 
relates. A few instances here will serve to illustrate the auriferousness of 
this vein. The seal of Cathale Priory, which was dedicated to S. Giles, the 
patron of ** the woodland, of lepers, beggars, cripples, and of those struck by 
some sudden misery and driven into solitude like the wounded hart, or 
hind " suggested the legend that the saint, having sought solitude in the 
depths of the forest, there lived in prayer and contemplation, his sole 
companion a hind who nourished him with her milk. One day when the air 
rang with the shouts of the chase an arrow was aimed at die hind. To 
save his pet S. Giles deliberately stretched out his hand, it is said, and 
received die bolt intended for her. Dover Priory(see Plate IX., Seal ly-iS),"''! 
enjoyed the patronage of S. Martin of Tours (whose feast — Martinmas 1 
— ^is still a great day in Scotland and the North of England), the disciple 
of S. Hilary of Poictiers. The seal employed by that institution recounted 
that one wintry day when the dread east wind scourged the hillside, 
the young soldier rode out and encountered a beggar. Moved 
with pity by his ragged garments which failed to protect he divided ; 
his cloak with him. That night the Saint saw in a vision Our 
Lord surrounded by angels, clothed in the identical half of the garment 
he had given away. Under the care of S. Margaret of Antioch — the 
feminine counterpart of our S. George, whose voice a thousand years after 
her martyrdom inspired La Pucelle to attempt the rescue of France, and 
devotion to whom was introduced into England from Syria in the eleventh 
centiuy by the retiring Crusaders — Poughley Priory reposed. Its seal 
suggested that when S. Margaret was cast into prison on account of her 
faith she was assailed by the Prince of Darkness in the form of a terrible 
dragon breathing flame, and that by simply raising the Cross aloft she 
vanquished it — or the more popular version, that when thus attacked, she 
was devoured by the foe who immediately burst asunder, and vanished 
leaving the maiden, endued with a refulgent light, unharmed. The 
Gilbertines of Lincoln regarded S. Catherine of Egypt as their especial 
protector, and contrived that their seal should afiude to her rescue. 
Oppressed by the tyrant Maximianus she was bound to a spiked wheel 
when fire rained down from Heaven, shattered the instrument of torture, 
and left her scathless. These are but glimpses of this aspect, alive with 
beauty, of our theme. 



r 



26 INTRODUCTION 

As before observed, an opportunity for a rebus seldom went 
unavailed of by medisevalists, a peculiarity accounted for by their passion 
for the symbolic. Instances are adduced in the seal of Ralph, who for a 
time held the Abbacy of Ramsey, which exhibited beneath an ornate 
scheme two rams in combat on an island in allusion to the site, and 
that of Oseney Abbey (see Plate XXV., Seal 49), which displayed inter 
alia an ox passant guardant in reference to the adjacent city of 
Oxford. / Before the establishment of Heraldry as a permanent element 
of ornament, armorial allusions from a similar cause at times occurred. 
^ For example, the seal of the Austin Gmons of Lesne bore in the field 
on each side a luce or pike hauriant palewise, derived from the arms of 
the founder Richard de Lucy. 

Not only figures, but positions and shapes were anciently vested 
with peculiar symbolic intents. The spirit which ordained that the 
sanctuary of a Church should face the rising and the entrance the setting 
sun decreed that the configuration of ecclesiastical seals — z rule, as will be 
seen, very often honoured in the breach, as well as" in the observance — 
should be emblematic of Him in whose service they were employed. The 
form is arrived at by the intersection of two segments of circles, called a 
pointed oval, or more properly a vesica piscis. The vesica pisciSy says Pugin 
m his Glossary of Ecclesiastical Ornament ^ " appears to be derived itova a very 
common acrostich of Our Lord's Name and Ofilices, contained in the Greek 
word ICHTHYS, which signifies a fish. This word, Eusebius and S. 
Augustine inform us, was formed from the initial letters of some verses of 
the Erythraean sybil, which taken together made the Greek word IX9Y2, 
which is interpreted 'Iiyaouc X/>i(rroc O^ov Yioc 2wrn/t>, that is Jesus Christ, 
the Son of God, the Saviour. In allusion to this most ancient emblem 
of Our Lord, Tertullian, and other early Fathers speak of Christians as 
Pisciculi, as born in the waters of Baptism. Hence it seems probable that 
the mode of representing Our Lord in a nimbus of a fish form 
originated. • . • The vesica piscis is found from the fourth century 
downwards/' Of this form Laing, in his Ancient Scottish Seals speaks 
ingeniously thus : — ^^ It may not unnaturally be supposed to represent 
the Church. For as the two circles, the intersection of which gives the 
figure, may symbolically represent the circles of time and eternity, so 
the figure given, may well represent the Church, where in a peculiar 
manner are united the afllairs of time with the more important affairs 
of eternity ; or in other words, the Church in the faithful discharge 
of its duties, forms, as it were, a connecting link or introductory passage 
— z resting place where, though within the circle of time and still militant 
may yet be met and enjoyed in some slight degree the blessings of 
eternity." 



CONCLUSION 27 

For a glimpse of the religious and ecclesiastical aspect of 
mediaeval life, and a clearer perception than is generally obtainable 
elsewhere of its nature, extent and effect there is no source more 
valuable than those remains of which we have here particularly treated. 
Upon the counterseal of Walter Mauclerk, Bishop of Carlisle, a.d. 1224-40, 
occurs a charming Latin verse. Since it poetically expresses the sum of 
what we have endeavoured to convey in the foregoing, a translation of 
part (^Arcb. Jour. No. 192, p. 344) will fitly serve as a conclusion. 

Voiceless though this sculpture, 
Still it utters sound. 



5e0ttt}rttte B0fe0* 



N.B. — The MonasHc Houses^ seals of which are illustratedy are arranged 
alphabe&cally^ and accompanying each description is the number of the 
Plate and Illustration which corresponds. 

BARKING, Benedictine Abbey of SS. Mary and Ethelburga, 

CO. Essex. 

One of the wealthier, more ancient, and more splendid 
■PI^T^ establishments of its kind raised in this country. Illustrious 
-^^I* for the sanctity and degree of several of its Abbesses, and as 

Seal 32. ^^ scene of many miracles. Situated near the little river 

Rhoding, sltghdy beyond the Town which anciendy derived 
much importance from it. Founded c. a.d. 670 during the reign of Hodilred 
King of the East Saxons (who granted a charter stUl preserved) by Ercon- 
wald, first Bishop of London after S. Augustine's arrival, who installed as 
Abbess his sister Ethelburga. She was followed by her sister Hildelha. 
Both were canonized ; S. Ethelburga was buried here, and afterwards united 
with the B. Virgin in the patronage. Other Abbesses of the Saxon 
blood-royal were Oswyth, daughter of Edifrith, King of Northumbria ; 
Edilburga, Queen of Ina of Wessex, and his sister Cuthebergh. The 
Abbey was destroyed by the Danes ; some of the nuns were slain, others 
put to flight. It was restored by King Edgar, and presided over by 
Elfrida, his queen, after his death. Here the Conqueror resided, pending 
the erection of the Tower of London. For a while Matilda, queen of 
Hen. I., governed as did also Maud, the wife of King Stephen. Adeliza, 
her successor, erected as a cell a hospital at Uford. Several privil^es 
were conferred upon the Abbey by various sovereigns and by frequent 
grants its possessions were extended. Mary, the sister of S. Thomas 
a Becket, in a.o. 1 1 73 became head of the house. Richard of Barking, Abbot 



30 MONASTIC SEALS 

of Westminster, Counsellor of Hen, III., Chief Baron of the Exchequer, and 
Lord Treasurer of England was interred here, and here Edmund and 
Jasper Tudor, sons of Catherine, queen-dowager, and Owen Tudor were 
educated. Unhappily, the impression of the seal illustrated is imperfect 
and indistinct. The design conveyed the joint dedication, and com- 
memorated the circumstances of the foundation. At the apex, within a 
cusping, appears the B. Virgin with the Infant Jesus, between SS. Peter 
and Paul delineated in part. A trio of cusped arches upheld by four 
pillars follow, the central occupied by S. Erconwald, with staff and book, 
the dexter and sinister by SS. Ethelburga and Hildelha. At the sides are 
two candlesticks with tall candles, introduced in a devotional sense, in the 
field a star and crescent, and in the base under a circular-headed archway 
the Abbess praying. 

VA • . • RKING OVENT [P]ROTEGAT • IS[TVM.] 

A complete estimate of the art of the seal is obviated by the state of 
the impression which nevertheless reveals in the design a harmonious 
arrangement, and suggests true and skilful drawing. An embattled gateway 
Tthe entrance to the Church-yard) over which is a chapel, and a few 
fragments of the walls are all that now remain of this once magnificent 
Abbey. 



BATH, Benedictine Abbey of SS. Peter and Paul, 

CO, Somerset. 

A Saxon foundation the fame, wealth, and pretension of 
^^Yj^^ which its magnificent church, " the Lantern of England," still 
XVII. reminds us. Erected in honour of the B. Virgin for nuns 

Seal 34. (S* a-^* ^7^)> through the munificence of Osric, the King 

of the Hwiccias, who gave for the purpose the lands of a 
hundred tenants. Destroyed by the Danes, and restored (c. a.d. 775) 
by King OfHi, who changed the dedication to S. Peter, and installed 
secular canons. Refounded by King Edgar (who was crowned by 
S. Dunstan within the church) for Benedictine monks. With the city, the 
Abbey church was burnt by Geoffrey, Bishop of Coutance and Robert de 
Mowbray during the insurrection of the first of William II. in favour 
of Robert the Conqueror^s eldest son. John de Villula, Bishop of 
Wells, having acquired of Rufus a grant of the Abbey, together with the 
city and its privileges, and removed his seat hither, rebuilt (a.d. 1106) 
the church as a Cathedral upon a magnificent scale, endowed the Abbey 
with the city and other property, and reduced it to a priory, reserving its 



BOXGRAVE PRIORY 31 

patronage to the bishopric. At this time, other and considerable gifts were 
made. Bishop Robert (a.d. 1135-66) rebuilt the church, which with the 
city had been again destroyed by fire, upon a larger scale, and increased the 
endowment Before he came to the throne. King John annexed two 
priories founded by him in Ireland. Bishop Savaric (a.d. i 192-1205) 
transferred the episcopal chair to Glastonbury Abbey, and assumed the 
title of Bath and Glastonbury, but afterwards Bishop Joceline released the 
latter Abbey and resumed the title since borne, of Bath and Wells. King 
John gave the monks (for a consideration^ a farm, . freed them from tofi 
at Bristol, and conferred with those of^ execution and the fire and 
water ordeals, various privileges. Ed. I. granted two fairs. The seal 
presented is assigned to the end of the thirteenth century. After Bishop 
Robert rebuilt the church S. Paul was joined with S. Peter, and the dual 
dedication afifbrds the subject. The design comprises, upon a field diapered 
lozengy— each space charged with a rose — ^the two Apostles standing upon 
a terrace, beneath a carved triple Gothic canopy, supporting a model of the 
Church, and at the base, within a trefoiled niche, three supplicating monks. 

SIGIL[LV]M [: CAPIT]VL[I : BATHONIENSIS : ECCL]ESIE. 
This fine example displays considerable beauty, and richness. The scheme 
is well studied, the figures are commendably treated, whilst the elaborate 
architectural detail, and the model Church reveal the work of a 
skilful hand. Highly artistic, and striking is the general effect. At the 
Dissolution the citizens declined the option of purchasing the Church, 
which was stripped of its glass, iron, and lead. Subsequently it was 
presented to the city. A cruciform structure, with a fine central tower, 
of considerable magnificence, it was commenced by Bishop Oliver King, 
who was translated from Exeter a.d. 1495, ^"^ ^^^^ recent times was 
the last purely Gothic edifice of any magnitude reared in England* No 
remains of the domestic buildings exist. 



BOXGRAVE, Benedictine Priory of SS. Mary and Blaise, 

CO. Sussex. 

A SMALL, originally wealthy foundation, erected as a cell to the 
Pl-A.^^ Abbey of Essay, Normandy, but enfranchished by Ed. III., 
^^* which stood about three and a half miles from Chichester. 

Seal 7. '^^^ parish, anciently part of the Priory Church, one of the 

most important examples of E.E. architecture in the country, 
marks the site. Founded by Robert de Haye. He received the honor of 
Halnac from Hen. I., and erected within his fee a sanctuary to the honour 



32 MONASTIC SEALS 

of the B. Virgin and S, Blaise (Bishop and martyr, patron of Woolcombers), 
with a house for three Benedictines, which he endowed. Rc^er de Sl 
John, who married the founder's daughter, added to its possessions, 
and increased the number of monks to six. His eldest son, William 
de St. John, making further gifts converted the establishment into a 
Priory, and raised the number of ecclesiastics to thirteen. Robert, 
another son, provided for a fourteenth, and William de St John 
further provided for a fifteenth — the usual complement* Later Lords 
of Halnac, with others, were benefactors. John de Harundd gave 
certain Chichester property, in consideration of the monks equipping 
him for the Holy Land. The Priory seal, a dual arrangement, is still 
preserved, and we are therefore enabled to give an illustration from a 
recent and perfect impression. It is of gUt bronze, and affords an 
example of those complicated instances referred to in our Introduction 
(page 20) as being composed of more than one piece. In this instance the 
matrices are four in number, two each for the obverse and reverse, one to 
stamp the figures in the background, the other the architectural facades. 
Exhibited upon the obverse is a highly-elaborated elevation of a church, 
with central tower of three pinnacles. Within two trefoiled niches under 
this tower (in reference to the first person of the dedication) the Annuncia- 
tion is presented. Above, in a triangular pediment with trefoiling inside, 
the half-length figure of Our Lord, nimbussed, lifting up the right hand 
in benediction. In a niche on both sides, below a quatrefoil panel, the 
representation of a monk similarly reduced. And in the base, within a 
lozenge cusped, the head of S. Blaise. 

SIGILU : ECCUE : SCE : MARIE : SCIQ : BLASII : DE : 

BOXGRAVA. 

The reverse displays beneath a sculptured, and trefoiled canopy 
w^ without supports, and upon a corbel foliated, the B. Vii^n 

*^' crowned and nimbussed, with the Child on her left knee, and 

Seal 8. * conventional lily flower in her right hand, enthroned between 

two box trees, on each of which a bird is perched. The 
allusion of the trees is obvious. The birds have perhaps no other than 
a natural significance, but legend relates that S. Blaise loved to 
retire to solitary places in the mountains because of the companionship of 
birds and beasts who were at home with him, and to this they might 
point. ^ ^ 

DICIT : EX : LIGNO : UIRIDI : BOXGVIA : DIGNO : 

NO!£ : NA : CRESCIT • VTVTIB* • ATQ • VIRESCIT. 

Were there not other examples equal — and superior also — to adduce, 

this beautiful instance would alone bear loud testimony of the high 

excellence reached in seal art. It was, even to the lettering, exquisitely 



BRADENSTOKE PRIORY 33 

wrought. The architecture of the obverse is most minutely detailed, and 
presented with scrupulous exactitude. If the features of the figures 
somewhat lack expression, their drawing and disposition are artistic, 
whilst it would be impossible to give the trees and birds a superior 
touch. Thomas West, Lord Delawarr, b^[ged ardently but vainly of 
Cromwell to spare the Priory. About 1780 a. d. a farmhouse was erected 
of its ruins, and fragments are yet discernible. The nave of the Church 
is in a ruinous state ; it is the choir, restored, which now serves 
parochial uses. 



BRADENSTOKE, Austin Priory of St. Mary, 

CO. Wilts. 

One of the four monastic centres which stood on, or near the 
YVT banks of the Avon. Erected a.d. i 142 by Walter de Eureux, 

^^^* or de Saresbiria — ^father of Patrick, Earl of Salisbury, and 

Seal 31. g**^^ grandfather of Ela, "a woman worthy of all honour 

because fuU of the fear of the Lord,*' wife of the renowned 
Earl of Salisbury, William Longspie — ^who afterwards became a canon of 
his own foundation. In the time of Hen. IV. the hospital of Wotton 
Basset was annexed. The patronage was afterwards exercised by the 
sovereign in right of the Duchy of Lancaster. Our illustration of the 
corporate seal is served by an injured, but fair impression. It presents the 
B. Virgin, the patroness, crowned, with the Holy Child on the left knee, 
seated on a considerably embellished throne, beneath a canopy graceftiUy 
trefoiled, upheld by slender columns and surmounted by a Church with 
tall spire and pinnacles. On either side appears an angel swinging a censer, 
at the foot a sculptured corbel, with a quatrefoil containing the head of a 
canon below, and in the field a star and crescent — in this instance emblems 
of the B. Virarin, the first suggested by her title Sfella Matutinay the second 
by a phrase nrom the Canticle of Canticles — pulchra ut luna. 
SIGILL* : ECCUIE : BEAT[E : MARIE : D]E : BRADENESTOKA. 
A very devotional instance this, graceftiUy as well as ornately con- 
ceived, and possessing great artistic merit which the condition of the 
impression tends rather to obscure. In their anatomy, proportions, and 
postures the chief figures are almost faultless ; their vestures are skilfuUy 
treated. Its archaeological value lies chiefly, perhaps, in the excellent 
delineation of what was no doubt the Priory Church above the canopy. 
The house was built in considerable magnificence. Important remains 
exist, consisting of refectory, Prior*s house, and domestic offices. A 



34 MONASTIC SEALS 

trio of beautifully-traced windows illumine the hall which is now 
partitioned. The refectory has three doors, which opened respecdvely 
upon the kitchen, cellar, and buttery ; the Prior*s chambers, a comer 
staircase and turret. Of the Church there are no vestiges. 



BRADSOLE, Premonstratensian Abbey of S. Radegund, 

CO. Kent. 

This foundation was once of considerable affluence, but 
'^^-^^^ afterwards became depleted of much of its estate. It stood 
XLIX. upon a hill about two and a half miles S.W. of Dover in the 
Seal 97. p^sh of Polton. To a few canons who settled here 

c. A.D. 1 191 was given, with the consent of Rich. I., Walter 
de Polton, mesne lord of the fee, and Stephen his son, the manor of 
Bradsole by Walter Hacket and his wife Emma. There were other 
benefactors. King John confirmed the various gifts made to it up to 
the period of his reign, which were afterwards largely extended. It 
had a cell at Blackewose in the neighbourhood, which previously 
belonged to Lavinden Priory. Through the instrumentality of the Barons 
of Hythe it was annexed to this house when in a poverty-stricken and 
ruinous state. With other barons, the Abbot towards the end of the 
reign of Ed. I. was summoned to Parliament. The situation being 
considered somewhat inconvenient, a proposal was on foot in the time 
of K. John to change it, but the removal was never effected. Our 
illustration of the Aobey seal is obtained from an impression which, 
although in an excellent state of preservation, we could wish was a litde 
more clearly defined. The design comprises the patroness, S. Rad^[und 
(Queen of France, a Saint of the sixth age of the Church, whose feast occurs 
on Au^st 13th) enthroned, delivering to an Abbot who kneels on the left 
before her, a pastoral staff. 

*SIGILL' : ABBATIS : ET : CONVENTVS : SANCTE : 

RADEGVNDIS. 
The theme alone is sufficient to render this example of peculiar interest, 
but its virtue is not so limited. In every sense the treatment it received 
was excellent. What often strikes us forcibly in scanning these litde 
memorials is the really extraordinary amount of imagery frequently 
crowded, without defiance of canon or law, into the allotted space. Here 
is a case in point. In the inclusion of the two figures within the awkward 
vesica an obvious difficulty was skilfully overcome by the artist giving the 
head of S. Radegund quite a natural and appropriate inclination towards 



BRISTOL ABBEY 35 

the other figure, and almost unnoticeably curtailing the latter. Both 
are accurately sketched, deftly draped, and naturally posed. The features 
of the Abbot are distinctly good ; those of the Saint are not particularly 
lucid. In part, the remains of the Abbey were converted into a farmhouse. 
They still aflford a fair idea of the dimensions and character of the 
ancient edifice* 



BRISTOL, Austin Canons' Abbey of S. Augustine, 

co.'s Somerset and Gloucester. 

One of the thirteen religious houses which at the Dissolution 
^J-^'rE encircled the walls of die city, and which up to that time 
^X* shared with the Hospital of the Gaunt's (founded by the 

Seal 39. Berkeley's after their intermarriage with the Gaunt*s, barons of 

Folkingham) the greatest note. Established in the reign of 
King Stephen by Robert FitzHarding. Robert was a son of Harding 
(reputed to have been a younger son of the King of Denmark) who had 
attached himself to the Conqueror, and received as a reward for his 
services a large grant of lands and proper^ in and around Bristol. 
Being the eldest son, Robert succeeded to the estates and afterwards 
became lord of Berkeley, the manor and barony of which, previously held 
from the crown by Roger de Berkeley, was conferred upon him by 
Hen. II. In a.d. i 140 he commenced the building of this house, and in 
its erection and endowment spent a large part of his wealth . The Church 
was consecrated and dedicated on Easter Day a.d. i 148, when the founder 
laid his deed of gift upon the high altar. Previously to his death he 
became an inmate, and was subsequently buried here in a monk*s habit 
and cowl. His family was noted for a long series of benefactions to the 
Church in general. The foundation was advanced to the dignity of an 
Abbey by Hen. IL, probably as a mark of his appreciation of the 
important services rendered by Robert FitzHarding to his mother, the 
Empress Maud, and himself, when Henry Plantagenet, in their contest for 
the crown with the usurper Stephen. The page of BristoFs history is a 
tumultuous one, and, increasing in wealth and exercising considerable 
influence during the centuries it flourished, by this the Abbey must have 
been closely afrected. Our corresponding illustration, supplied by a good 
impression, is of a counter-seal which probably belonged to William de 
Bradeston, first Prior and then Abbot. To the latter dignity he was 
advanced a.d. 1234, and resigned it after eight years government. The 
design, which has no local or personal bearing, conveys a famous incident 



36 MONASTIC SEALS 

of the Resurrection : — Our Lord appearing to S. Thomas. Here the 
doubting Apostle is seen (his name appearing above) kneeling to his 
Crucified Redeemer (whose Head is nimbussed), placing his hand to 
confound his doubts into the wound in His side. 

*IMINET ECCE CRVOR • ET DEITATE FRVOR. 
This litde instance unites the charming and the devotional. The field was 
too small to admit of very fine engraving, consequently the secondary 
figure sufiTered somewhat in delineation. The chief, however, possesses 
considerable merit, and the seal as a whole is artistic. Bristol Abbey 
was a very rich one. In a.d. 1542 when the episcopate of Bristol 
was erected, its site and a part of its lands were appropriated to the 
Bishopric. A fragment of the original structure still survives in a Norman 
gateway, one of the best instances of its kind extant. Its splendid 
Church continues to-day as the Cathedral of Bristol. 



BROMHOLM, Cluniac Priory of S. Andrew, 

CO. Norfolk. 

The objective of a famous pilgrimage, alluded to in his vision 
YiJ^T ^7 ^^^^ Plowman, which stood about three miles from 
XXVII. Norwich in what is now the parish of Keswick. Originally a 
Seal 54. ^^^ *^ Castleacre Priory, it was liberated by a Bull of Pope 

Celestine. William de Glanvill appears as the founder in 
A.D. 1 1 13, and such gifts as it received from him were confirmed and 
extended by his son Bartholomew de Glanville. Other benefactors 
included King Stephen and Hen. I. Hen. III. granted a fair on the feast 
of the Exaltation of the Cross and the two succeeding days, with a weekly 
market. What drew pilgrims here in great numbers was a Cross 
composed of fragments of the True Cross set up in a chapel. It 
occasioned sevenu miraculous cures. Matthew Paris relates the story, 
that an English priest who officiated in the Greek Emperor*s chapel at 
Constantinople had in his custody this Cross which he, on the death of the 
Emperor in a.d« 1223, brought into England. Desiring to enter a 
religious house with his son, he declined to part with the relic unless they 
were so admitted. The monks here permitted them to enter their Priory, 
and so gained possession. By reason of the offerings laid before it the 
house became exceedingly rich. Unfortunately the impression illustrated 
is imperfect, but not to the extent of denying a good idea of the original 
seal. The design exhibits the Priory Church. In a pediment, and 
within a sunk trefoiled window, occurs a half-length representation of 



BURY S- EDMUNDS ABBEY 37 

the B. Virgin with the Divine Infant, and in the centre of the Church, 
beneath a round-headed arch, S. Andrew the patron enthroned and 
nimbussed, holding in his hand not his customary saltire, but the renowned 
Cross of Bromholm, and in his left a book. On the left of the roof is 
a rose, and on the right another probably appeared in correspondence, but 
the state of the impression is such as to leave this to conjecture. 

M * SANCTI * ANDREE * DE * BROM[HOLM]. 

As the fine fragment presented reveals, the claims of this seal were such as 
to justly place it amongst the finest examples of the period. The scheme 
is a commendable one. What chiefly strikes us in regard to it is the 
remarkable vigour displayed in the portrayal of the central figure and the 
unrestrained boldness of its conception. From the illustration it is 
diflicult to realize that it is not a reproduction of some large piece of 
sculpture we are examining instead of a seal which measures no more 
than three inches in diameter. The work, it would seem to be, is that of 
an artist accustomed to manipulate with chisel large masses of stone no 
less skilfully than with graver small pieces of metal — of a man accustomed 
both to think and act boldly. The delineation of the Church is most 
^aiseworthy. Considerable remains of this house may yet be seen. 
They consist chiefly of the great gateway, a large part of the Church, 
portions of the kitchen and other offices and lodgings. 



BURY S. EDMUNDS, Benedictine Abbey, 

CO. Suffolk. 

After Glastonbury, perhaps the most superb of English 
PLATE Abbeys. It lay situate betweien the two ancient Churches of 
^^I- SS. Mary and James. Famed equally for its learning, 

Seal 41. sanctity, and wealth. The Abbot sat in Parliament and 

decided causes within his extensive Franchise. The possessions 
of the house included the royalties of several hundreds. At the 
Dissolution, when the degradation of surrender provoked the Abbot's 
death, its annual revenue reached an immense sum. Its many privil^s 
which embraced the right of coinage were extraordinary and valuable. 
Ornamented in a most artistic and costly fashion, sufficient architectural 
vestiges exist to recall the beauty, extent and magnificence of its ancient 
buildings. In a.d. 855 Edmund succeeded King Ofia in the kingdom of 
the East Angles, and fifteen years later was brutally murdered by the 
Danes. He was buried in an obscure chapel at Hoxne, and subsequently 
canonized. About thirty-three years after his death his remains were 



38 MONASTIC SEALS 

removed to Burjr (then called "Beodric's worthe,** and since Bury 
S. Edmund's) by Leofric, a priest, who raised a Church here in his honour, 
and with seven or eight seculars settled beside it. By a.d. 915 the clei^ 
had increased to nineteen, when King Athdstan is reputed to have 
incorporated them. Later his brother King Edmund, King Edvnr, 
Theodred Bishop of London, and others conferred upon the collc|;e gins 
and advantages. As a Benedictine Abbey the establishment was rerounded 
in the reign of Cnut. In a.d. 1020, upon the site of the original Church 
the foundations of another were laid. The King bestowing at the same 
time many privil^es made it several important grants, and Ailwin, Bishop 
of Elmham, that the power of the Abbot might be increased considerably 
reduced his prerogatives, and ordained that mc jurisdiction of the Abbey, 
and the radius of a mile from the town should thenceforth be vested in the 
Abbot. In the new Church, dedicated to Christ, the B. Virgin and 
S. Edmund, the martyrs* relics were richly enshrined. Here Cnut 
frequently paid his devotions and offered it his crown. The Confessor 
also often came to the shrine, and always performed the last mile of his 
pilgrimage on foot. By him the Abbot was constituted lord of the 
h'ranchise — the jurisdiction of eight hundreds and a half, and the receipt of 
their royalties — ^and from him received the privil^e of a mint. Soon 
after the Conquest the Church was destroyed and another immediately 
commenced. William commanded the Aboot of Peterborough to allow 
the Abbot of Bury as much stone free of toll fix)m the quarries of 
Barnack, as was needed for the work of rebuilding. Having Journeyed to 
Rome to obtain a Bull from Alexander II., Baldwin, the Abbot, returned 
laden with gifts, which included an altar of porphyry vested with this 
privilege, that unless expressly interdicted Mass should always be 
solemnized within the Abbey as long as the altar stood. The third 
Abbey Church was completed a.d. 1095, and S. Edmund*s relics trans- 
lated there in the year following. Hen. I. granted a fair of six days. On 
his return from Chartres he made a pilgrimage hither, and in thanksgiving 
for a safe return made a valuable offering to the shrine. To S. E(£iund 
Hen. II. attributed the victory he achieved in the battle fought against his 
rebellious sons, he having caused the martyrs' banner to be carried in fix)nt 
of his army. Rich. I. before embarking upon the Crusade also visited the 
shrine and made presents. Afterwards he mve to the Church the banner 
of Isaac, King of Cyprus. Eleanor the Queen of the first Plantagenet 
gave several valuable jewels. The use of these for life King John cajoled 
the Abbot to give hmi, but whilst snatching the profits of other houses 
during the interdict he spared the coflTers of Bury. Previously, a.d. 1205 
the earls and barons held a council antagonistic to him here, and in 
A.D. 12 1 6 Lewis, the dauphin of France, whose support they had enlisted, 



BURY S. EDMUNDS ABBEY 39 

robbed the monastery of many valuables, and, it was long supposed, the 
relics of S. Edmund also, which he was reputed to have taken to France. 
Dissensions occasionally arose between the monks and the people. The 
most deplorable occurred in a.d. 1327, when 20,000 men maide an assault 
upon the Abbey, and committed great destruction. Punishment upon the 
rebels was swift and severe, many being executed. One of the chief 
l^ends related of S. Edmund records the discovery of his head. The 
Danes had him beaten, shot at with arrows and beheaded, finally throwing 
his body and dissevered head into the densest part of a wood. At first his 
people fiuled to discover the latter. Search was continued. Some of those 
who sought missed their way and shouted to their companions ** Where 
are you ? ** A strange voice replied ** Here I here ! '* Advancing in its 
direction the missing head was round in a thicket carefully guarded by a 
wolf. This legend was a favourite subject of mediaeval representation, and 
with the torture and martyrdom of S. Edmund this the obverse of the 
Privy seal of the Abbey, illustrated here from an impression neither 
altogether perfect or distinct but on the whole fiurly satisfactory, in part 
conveys. The design comprises in the upper section the royal martyr 
fastened to a tree with strange overhanging branches, and being shot at 
by five archers ; in the lower, under a trefoiled arch, his decapitation, where 
a wolf is seen bearing ofiF with the crowned head ; at the bottom of the 
scheme two more trees occur, and above them three pierced beads or 
pearls. 

[SIGN]VM : SECRETVM : CAPUI : JEDMVNDI : 

REGIS : ET : MARTIRI[S.] 

The reverse in its design also conunemorated the popular 

PL^^^ dedicatory, and two of the Abbey benefactors also. It 

XXI. displayed S. Edmund crowned and enthroned, beneath a 

Seal 42. sculptured canopy of three arches (one trefoiled) surmounted 

by a Church-like structure, -between two prelates (each of 
whom supports a pastoral staff in the outer hand, and raises the inner 
towards the King), Theodred Bishop of London (or Egelmar, Bishop of 
Elmham, an eleventh century benefactor), and Ailwin, Bishop of Elmham. 
Below the platform upon which the figures rest is a trefoiled aperture and 
an embattled wall, and here, as on the obverse, three beads or pearls appear* 
AGMINE : STIPATVS : SEDE[T : E]D : REX : 

PONTIFICA[TVS]. 
Judged critically and closely by the strictest canons, the art exhibited in the 
execution of the very quaint obverse, it must be confessed, does not reach 
a particularly high standard. Examined as a whole, and in a general way 
it relates its story in a striking and graphic manner. To achieve this is to 
a fundamental principle in a work of Art, and so fiu*, and with 



40 MONASTIC SEALS 

eflfect, our artist succeeded. Within this diminutive space the particulars 
of the torture, degradation, and martyrdom concluding with the legend of 
the wolf are all related in the fullest detail and, our higher criticism 
notwithstanding, the design has much to commend it As we count 
up the number of arrows transfixed in the Saint's body, however, we 
cannot help wondering why the sanguinary Danes considered decapitation 
a necessary operation. The impression illustrated as regards the reverse 
has suffered much from pressure, and also apparently from a spreading of 
the wax. Under these circumstances a full appraisement is not feasible. 
Obviously its conception was of some richness, and as is also sufficiently 
indicated the drapery was treated in an artistic fashion. Altogether, it 
reveals a higher skill in its execution than that shewn in the preceding, and 
had we before us an impression fresh from the matrix we should no 
doubt find but few defects to condemn it. 

Counter-seal of Simon de Luton, who was elected Abbot 
^Y^y^ February, a.d. 1257, and confirmed by Alexander IV. the 
XLVIIl. following November. An excellent impression. This also 
Seal 95. exhibits, under a trefoiled canopy, the decollation of 

S. Edmund. A wolf is shewn guarding the head, and above 
the canopy, between two churches or parts of churches, a half-length 
representation of the B. Virgin, nimbussed, with the Child on the left 
knee. The art of this little example, conceived with much grace and 
executed with considerable delicacy, is both telling and happy. Whatever 
defects are visible — ^and they exist — ^in the delineation or the martyr are 
compensated for by the remarkable treatment of the executioner the 
features of whom, in spite of the diminution of that figure, are perfectly 
distinct and natural ; in their expression we can see fear, if not remorse as 
a consequence of the act just perpetrated. The features of the King are 
also discernible. 

VIRGO : DEVM : PERT : DVX : CAPUD : AUFERT : Q'D : 

LVP9 : HIC : PERT : 
During Simon's abbacy the Franciscans, to the annoyance of the monks, 
made their first appearance at Bury, upon which a long dispute ensued and 
finally ended in the removal of the friars without the jurisdiction of the 
town. Within this period also the Pope granted to the King a tenth of 
the goods of the Abbey barony. The Bishop of Norwich fled hither whilst 
the barons plundered that city ; and Hen. III. whilst at the Abbey was 
seized with the malady which terminated in his death. In a.d. 1272 he 
had held a Parliament here which, it has been stated, may be considered 
as the outline of a British House of Commons, and it was on returning 
later the fatality of his disorder manifested itself. 



CANTERBURY PRIORY 41 

The final illustration contributed by Bury S. Edmunds, also 
* LATE derived from a good impression, is that of the seal of 
JLJLA. Walter, an uncertain Abbot or Prior. This, too, conveys 

Seal cq. ^^^ l^end of the wolf, who is here seen, before a conventional 

tree, bearing away to the right the crowned head of the 
martyred King. One of the more charming of our minor examples, and 
most skilfully treated. The martyr's head is designed with such 
minuteness tiiat the features are distinctly seen to wear a pleasant 
expression. Stricdy, the wolf should have been placed at the foot of the 
tree, but for this the vesica afforded no room. To get over the difiiculty 
the engraver boldly drew the animal with its sacred burden across the tree, 
and it is not immediately we discover the offence against the laws both of 
perspective and gravity. Differently treated, the same device affords the 
subject of the corporate seal of the borough of iSury S. Edmund. _^ 
*OSTENDVT • SIGNV • GALTERI • REX • LVPA • LIGNV. 
Chiefly, the remaining vestiges of this glorious Abbey comprise the gate 
(of Decorated style), which is yet complete, bridge, also well preserved, and 
detached parts of the walls. 



CANTERBURY, Priory of Christ Church, 

CO. Kent. 

One of the two great conventual foundations laid in this city, 
PLATE yast alike in its grandeur, wealth, influence, and power. It 
XLVII. lay situate adjoining the Mother Church of England, to which 
Seal 94. ^^ ^^^*^ attached until the Dissolution when out of this house 

the Cathedral was erected. Through the generosity of King 
Ethelbert it was originally founded by S. Augustine. Having landed 
A.D. 597 at Ebbe's Fleet, an important point of embarkation . in 
pre-historic times in the Isle of Thanet, he, assured of a friendly 
welcome by the Kentish sovereign whose wife was a Christian, with his 
forty monks advanced upon Canterbury. He took up his residence at the 
** Stable Gate," near the present Church of S. Alph^e, and was allowed to 
worship with his followers at S. Martin's without the walls. On the 
and- July Ethelbert was baptised, and on the Christmas Day following ten 
thousand people of Kent were received into the Christian fold in the waters 
of the Swale. Soon after Ethelbert resigned his palace to the *' Aposde of 
the English," who converted it into a Priory, named it Christ Church, and 
took up his residence there with his fellow-missionaries. From the 
commencement the Priory was liberally endowed, but as time advanced its 



42 MONASTIC SEALS 

estate reached enormous proportions. The property of the Archbishops 
and monks was held by both in common. The history of the house is 
bound up with that of the archiepiscopate, that of the archiepiscopate with 
the annals of the country. The wealth and importance of the metropolitan 
city exposed it to frequent inroads, and in the evil consequences of these 
it shared. After the brutal murder of S. Thomas aBecket within its 
walls, the Church, where his remains were enshrined, became the objective 
of the famous Canterbury Pilgrimage, a peculiar feature of mediaeval life 
of which Chaucer has given such a vivid and immortal description. From 
all parts of Christendom the devout flocked here in great numbers, and 
showered upon the tomb of the murdered Archbishop gifts of incalculable 
value. Every fiftieth year was held a grand jubilee in commemoration 
of his Translation, when indulgences were granted to all who came. The 
festival lasted two weeks, and was timed from midnight on the vigil of the 
feast. The feud which commenced between the monks of this and those 
of the rival house, arising out of the claim of exemption, constituted not 
the least conspicuous incident in the career of the Priory. It continued 
with much acerbity until the Reformation, and is historic. Near the 
Cathedral certain indications of this celebrated house still exist. The first 
of our illustrations pertaining to it is taken from an excellent impression 
of the seal of a Prior, Roger de la Lee. In design it comprised a mitred 
ecclesiastical figure, either intended for S. Augustine, S. Thomas of 
Canterbury, or other canonized member of the archiepiscopate, standing 
upon a sculptured corbel. He grasps the folds of his doak with his 
right hand, and holds a book in the left. 

+SIGILU ROGERI PRIORIS ECCUE CRISTI CANTVARIE. 
The scheme is that of the most archaic of its class, a fine and bold 
example which reveals clever, but not superlative manipulation of the 
graver. In the figure from the neck its merit chiefly lies ; the vesture is 
distinctly good, whilst quite naturally the right hand clutches the cloak. 
The features are void of expression, and repudiate the idea of very 
studious treatment. Obviously the design suflFered through the entire 
absence of Gothic feeling, and between it and the illustration the subject 
of the description inunediately following comparison is invited. 

Our second illustration relating to this Priory, derived fix>m 
^^-^^^ an injured but very fine impression, is of the seal of another 
XXIX. Prior, Henry de Eastry. It comprehended upon a field 
Seal c8. diapered lozengy — ^a minute cinquefoil or sixfoil in each space 

— ^an elegant canopy with pointed arch and crocketted 
pinnacles, upheld by slender columns, under which a similar ecclesiastical 
figure with embroidered vestments and mitre stands upon a carved 



CANTERBURY ABBEY 43 

corbel. In this instance a book is clasped with both hands, and in the 
field on either side appeared, enclosed in a quatrefoil panel, die head of a 
monk. 

. S\ HENRICI PRIORIS EC[CLE]SIE XPI CANTVARIE. 
Of its kind this proffers a rich example, Essentially, the type is that 
of the preceding delineated in the richness of development. The suggested 
comparison between the seal of Prior Roger, free from Gothic influence, 
and this prepossessed by it forcibly and lucidly manifests the effect of that 
influence and its depth. Here the figure is vested for Mass. The expert 
manner in which the vestments have oeen dealt with cannot fail to provoke 
admiration. In the figure itself good modelling is shewn, whilst the 
features are full of expression. Altogether, the seal is artistically perfect 
and may be placed amongst the finer medieval works of its order. 



Benedictine Abbey of SS. Peter ^ Pau/j and Augustine. 

Thb other grand conventual institution of the city, the 
^^^^•^ powerful rival of which it was almost in wealth, altogether in 
^^^* renown and power. Being of Abbatial rank and mitred this was 

Seal 8q« ^^ most dignified foundation. Its rent roll nearly occupies 

four columns of the contracted pages of Domesday, and its 

f'owth from age to age was in equal correspondence with Christ Church. 
o that establishment it lay near at hand, without the ancient walls of the 
city but very close to them, to the south east. The present Missionary 
CoU^e was erected upon its site. Its remains are still extensive, and 
comprise massive towers, very beautiful gateways, and large masses of the 
boundary. Church, and ofiice walls. Like its ancient and inveterate rival 
it was originally founded through the munificence of King Ethelbert by 
S. Augustine. It was his original plan to divide distinctly monastic from 
the purely secular work of the episcopate. Accordingly, shordy after the 
completion of Christ Church S. Augustine laid the foundations of the Abbey 
near a once pagan Temple then consecrated to S. Pancras. In a.d. 978 
it was restored and enlarged by S. Dunstan, then Archbishop of Canterbury, 
at which time S. Augustine was added to the original patronage of 
SS. Peter and Paul. Gradually it became popularly known as 
S. Augustine's. In early times it claimed superiori^ over Christ Church, 
of which it was extremely jealous because of the great distinctions conferred 
upon the latter, and its possession of the famous shrine of S. Thomas. 
Until the Dissolution it nourished exceedingly. Illustrations of two seals 
belonging to it are here presented. The first, obtained by means of 
an excellent impression is that employed by Roger of Chichester, who was 



44 MONASTIC SEALS 

Abbot from a.d. 1252-72. It exhibited in elevation and secdbn an 
architectural fafade, shaped in conformity with the area of the vesica^ 
detailed with numerous windows and cusped apertures, and spires. Below 
a cusped archway, in the centre stands upon a carved corbel the 
Abbot, Roger, vested and mitred, with a pastoral staff in the right 
hand, in the left a book. Above the doorway appears a minute 
representation of the Abbey Church, and on either side of the figure a 
cusped panel of oval shape, each of which contains the head of a monk. 

: SIGILL' ROGER! DEI GRA AB* SCI AVGVSTINI : 

CANTVARIE : 
Abbot Roger's seal, a very beautiful Gothic instance perfect in its art, 
continues essentially the type of those of Priors Roger and Henry of Christ 
Church, but in its design exhibits a treatment quite distinct from that 
revealed by either. Similarly with the latter it may well be placed with 
the finest productions of its class and period. To several corporate 
examples illustrated in this work the architectural features of the scheme 
respond closely. This section has been executed elaborately and with 
care, whilst the delineation of the figure reveals no less. It is worthy 
of note, as elucidating the attention usually bestowed upon these 
productions that two distinct scales are involved in the presentment of the 
facade, and the tiny Church at the apex. The first is quite a conventional 
structure, but in all probability we have in the second a substantiaUy 
accurate view of the contemporary Abbey Church. Pope Urban 
A.D. 1258 granted Abbot Roger power to absolve all persons who 
were professed in his house from excommunication. He built a new 
refectory, founded the chapel of Kinsdowne, and richly enshrined the 
relics of S. Mildred. Till his time the monks shaved each other in the 
cloister, but he, because they were often wont through lack of skill to cut 
and hurt one another, decreed that shaving should thenceforth be under- 
taken by laymen. 

Our second example is served by an impression of the Abbot's 
^^■^T'^ Privy seal. It was an official instance, employed successively 
XLIX. by ^g heads of the house for the purpose suggested. The 
Seal 98. design is of three sections. In the first, at the apex, occurs 

under a canopy with square-headed arch the half length 
representation of two Saints, probably designed for SS. Peter and Paul. 
The central contains within a canopied niche with trefoiled arches, supported 
on four slender shafts, the enthronement of S. Augustine, mitred, who raises 
the right hand in blessing, and grasps a pastoral staff widi the sinister. In 
the third, at the base, a half-length delineation of the Abbot is presented 
under a trefoiled arch, kneeling in prayer to the left 



CERNE ABBEY 45 



SIGILL* SECRETI • ABBIS • SCI • AVGVS-p : CANTVAR\ 
Whilst the impression here illustrated is clear in outline, it suflers some- 
what from a lack of distinctness, moreover, comparatively speaking, the 
relief in which the seal was graven, in its depth usually a mark^ and 
admirable feature, is not particularly fine. We are scarcely enabled, 
through the second circumstance, to fully appreciate the value of the skill 
employed upon it. The scheme, however, is to a limited extent 
uncommon, and in the disposition of its elements distinctly good. The seal 
is an interesting specimen from various points, chief of which is that 
S. Augustine is depicted upon it with the pallium. 



CERNE (or Cernell), Benedictine Abbey of SS. Mary, 

Peter, and Benedict, co. Dorset. 

A Saxon foundation of large possessions, the site of which is 
^^:Y *^^ marked by a gatehouse, or square embattled tower — 

^^* considered to have l^n the principal entrance — the sum of its 

Seal 82. remains. According to Mdmesbury, S. Augustine after the 

conversion of Kent travelled throughout all England except 
Northumbria, and upon reaching here was driven away by the inhabitants. 
Anticipating a change in their attitude towards him he exclaimed to his 
followers, Cemo Deum qui et nobis retribuit graHam^ et furentibus illis 
emendatiorem infundet animam. The people repented of their hostility, 
b^[ged pardon of the Saint, and beseeched his return, circumstances which 
he attributed to God. Augustine went back, named the place Cemely 
compounded of Hebrew Hel or £/, God, and Latin Cemoj and here a 
hermitage sprang up. To it Athelwold, brother of S. Edmund retired. 
In the days of King Ethelred, Ethelmer, a nobleman of his court, founded 
upon it this monastery which he liberally endowed. ^Ifric, the first 
Abbot, became Archbishop of Canterbury. Cnut when King of Denmark 
was charged with the plunder and destruction of the Abbey. After he 
reached the throne of England, however, he compensated for this by 
the gift of lands and bestowal of privileg;es. Hen. II., Ed. I., and Ed. III. 
also appear to have bene^urted. The Abbot in the sixth year of the reign 
of Rich. I. was mulcted in the sum of forty shillings scutate for that 
King*s redemption. The impression remaining of the seal, althouj^h 
imperfect, conveys a good idea of the original, and is selected ror 
reproduction here on account of its excellent and archsologically valuable 
architectural detail. It displayed an elevation of the West front of the 
Abbey Church (now completely obliterated) richly detailed in the 



46 MONASTIC SEALS 

contemporary (E.E,) style, upheld by the half length figures (placed 
under two round-headed and masoned arches) of the original founder 
S. Au|[ustine, and the second founder Ethelmer. A small bird occurred on 
the foliated crockets of the roof to the left and right, and behind each of 
the figures a cinquefoil. The legend in the impression is wholly wanting. 
Gothic elevations in seal art are as a rule largely conventional, but a glance 
at the fine fragment described is adequate to inspire r^ret that a 
perfect impression of what must have been a remarkable example of 
monastic seal production is no longer available. Even this imperfect 
object not only convinces us that the architecture was presented with great 
skdl, but incites the hypothesis that in this instance also with unusual 
truth. Since not one stone of the edifice it represents remains above 
another, upon the assumption of the accuracy of our conjecture as to the 
realistic nature of this representation depends that archaeological value 
we have hinted it possesses. 



CHAUCUMBE (or Sawcomb), Austin Canons* Priory of 

SB. Peter and Paul, co. Northampton. 

A SMALL establishment, few details of which exist. Although 
^*-^TE an earlier founder is named in an ancient rent roll — Hugh 
XXII. dc Anesy, a Norman knight, who accompanied the G)nqueror 

Seal 44. *^ England — it was actusQly erected in the time of Hen. II. 

by Hugh de Chacombe or Sawcomb, lord of the manor. 
The charter of foundation was witnessed by Walkdin, Abbot of S. James, 
Northampton, and Alexander, Prior of Canons Ashby. It is suggested 
that Hugh de Anesy was an ancestor of the founder. Two chantries in 
the reigti of Ed. III. were raised within the church ; one by Edmund de 
Bereford, a clerk, who gave a Warwickshire manor to provide four canons 
for the celebration of masses in advancement of the spiritual welfare of his 
father and mother, the King, and Henry, Bishop of Lincoln ; the other by 
the convent for a knightiy patron. Sir John de Lyons. The matrix of the 
seal employed by the canons being yet extant we are enabled to present a 
reproduction or a perfect impression. It generally illustrates the dual 
dedication, and exhibits in detail below a reversed arc or bow, containing a 
Hand (typical of a Heavenly benediction) with the third and fourth finger 
closed in upon the palm, mil-length representations of the two patrons 
SS. Peter and Paul, who, with their respective emblems confront each 
other, and stand upon another bow or arc, contrarily disposed, under which 
the Prior, partially delineated, kneels and supplicates them. 



CHERTSEY ABBEY 47 

+SIGILU • APOSTOLORT • PETRI • ET • PAVLI • DE • 

CHAVCVMBA. 
This seal may be assigned to a very early time within our period, before 
the Gothic influence had wholly asserted itself, or found general expression. 
Its design is singularly chaste and lucid, and in its execution considerable 
skill is exhibited. In delineating S. Peter the artist, it will be observed, was 
not guided by tradition, but gave us his realization of the Apostle in the 
figure of a youth instead. Upon this figure he obviously lavished 
particular pains ; it is exceedingly well draped, whilst the features are 
accurately and pleasantly drawn. The attitude of S. Paul is a trifle 
antagonistic (a view which the presence and position of the sword may 
accentuate), and it would seem as if S. Peter was giving the soft answer 
which turneth away wrath. Of the early excellence of seal art, it is adduced 
as a striking example. The village of Chaucumbe, wherein the Priory, to 
the north, was situated, lies in a deep and secluded valley which ascends to 
the parish Church — ^anciently an appropriation of the canons. Out of the 
ruins of the monastic establishment a manorial seat was erected soon after 
the Dissolution. Until the eighteenth century was well advanced the 
gatehouse and lodge continued. The site is now occupied by a comparatively 
modern mansion. The only traces, and these but slight, of the ancient 
Priory are visible in one of the domestic oflices. 



CHERTSEY, Mitred Benedictipe Abbey of S. Peter, 

CO. Surrey. 

The first monastic institution raised in the county. In Saxon 
*^^^^^ and later periods a house of considerable note and dignity. It 
VII. stood upon a spot just beyond the site of the Church of the 

Seal 13. parish of Chertsey (where the South Saxon Kings resided 

during the Heptarchy) which contains an ancient bell of the 
Abbey. Its possessions were very numerous, but although mitred and 
regarded as a spiritual baron, the Abbot had no seat in Parliament 
Founded, upon what was then an island in the Thames, c. a.d. 666 by 
Frithewald, viceroy or Earl of Surrey under Wulpherus King of Mercia, 
and S. Erconwald, who, as already related, founded somewhere about this 
time for his sister S. Ethelburga an abbey at Barking. Erconwald was the 
first Abbot ; he personally obtained from Pope Agatho a Bull granting 
special privileges to his house, over which he continued to preside until 
called to fill the episcopate of London. In the ninth century, during the 
Abbacy of Beocca, the Danes slew almost a hundred monks, burnt both the 



48 MONASTIC SEALS 

Church and monastety, and as was their wont committed great devastation. 
Restored in the time of K. Edgar, and at his direction, by Ethelwold, 
Bishop of Winchester, when it was re-endowed with its ancient possessions 
and filled with monks from Abingdon. The Church and buildings erected at 
this time continued until a.d. mo, when, whilst Hugh of Winchester a 
relation of King Stephen ruled, the pile was re-erected entirely. The 
Confessor and other sovereigns were considerable bene^tors. Altogether, 
the Abbey possessed extensive lands spread over four counties, a cell in 
Cardigan, a house in London, and no less than twenty-five manors. 
Hy. Vl., whose remains were interred within the Church prior to thdr 
removal to Windsor, granted a fair on S. Anne*s Day which as '^ Black 
Cherry Fair ** survives. The seal given, obtained from a fine impression, 
is that of Bartholomew de Winton, Abbot, a.d. 1272- 1307, who, chaiged 
with alienating certain possessions of his house, provoked from Pope 
Gregory X. a Bull addressed to the Prior of Dorchester, which authorized 
him to enquire and define as void any illicit conveyance the Abbot 
mifht have made. It exhibited his effigy vested for Mass beneath a 
trefoiled canopy unsupported, and standing upon a corbel, holding a staflF 
in one hand, a book in the other. Over the trefoiling appeared a 
miniature Church, and in the field two small niches with pointed arches 
and crocketted spires, which respectively contained the heads of SS. Peter 
and Paul with their emblems below. 

S' BARTHOLOMEI : DEI : GRA : ABBATIS : CERTESEYE : 
Compared with the seals of Prior Henry of Christ Church, and Abbot 
Rc^er of S. Augustine's (Canterbury), the type of which differently 
treated it pursued, the seal of the Abbot of Chertsey illustrated, although 
the figure it displayed was well modelled and draped and presented in 
excellent relief, falls somewhat short of the artistic standard of both. 
The little niches at the sides reveal n^ligence in their delineation ; they 
are ill-balanced, and have the appearance of being squeezed in hurriedly as 
the issue of an afterthought. The Church at the apex is distinctly 
worked, but entirely lacks character. The Abbey was mitred as we have 
stated, but the figure, it is curious to note, does not wear the head-dress 
that dignity carried. As the title in this case was lai^dy nominal, 
however, the omission may have been intentional. The place and value 
of the symbolic system in Art is here manifested. Anxious to introduce 
the figures of SS. Peter and Paul, and the space available forbidding, the 
engraver resorted to it with the fullest effect. The ground plan of this 
celebrated Abbey is still discernible, but an arch and a few vestiges of 
the barn exhaust all architectural remains. The streets of the town are 
supposed to have been raised by fragments of the masonry. The ancient 
fish ponds are yet preserved. 



CHESTER ABBEY 49 

CHESTER, Benedictine Abbey of S. Werburgh, 

CO. Cheshire. 

A CELEBRATED Saxoii foundation, largely endowed and highly 
^^-^TE privileged, the situation of which lay a little to the east of the 
•^^ North Gate of this ancient and remarkable city. Of its lost 

Seal 37. grandeur its magnificent Church, now the Cathedral of the 

Diocese, continues as an eloquent memorial. The date and 
circumstance of its origin are obscured, but there can be no question 
that at a very early period a conventual establishment dedicated to 
SS. Peter and Paul was in existence here— certainly before a.d. 875. 
According to tradition it was erected by Wulpherus, King of Mercia 
(a.d. 67(^ for his daughter Werbiugh (who displayed an inclination for a 
religious life) and a company of pious maidens, but, whilst it is probable a 
nunnery originated in this circumstance, it was not located here. In 
A.D. 875 the remains of S. Werburgh were brought from Heanburgh and 
enshrined in the already existent foundation of SS. Peter and Paul. Not 
until then did any connection exist between the royal virgin and the city. 
How long the original foundation flourished is uncertain, but by the time 
Athelstan came to the throne, probably through the ravages of the Danes, it 
had ceased to eaust. In his reign Ethelfleda, Countess of Mercia (who restored 
the walls of the city which die Northmen had destroyed), caused it to be 
rebuilt in honour of S. Werburgh and S. Oswald (the most Christian of all 
the rulers of Northumbria) and filled it with secular canons. To the 
munificence of the Countess the new foundation was indebted for a large 
part of its endowment, which King Edmund, King Edgar, and Leofric, 
Earl of Chester considerably enlarged. In a.d. 1093 Hugh Lupus, Earl 
of Chester, at the instance of Ansdm, Abbot of Bee (afterwards the famous 
Archbishop of Canterbury), ejected the canons and with his Countess, 
Ermentruda, refounded and venr liberally endowed the house for a 
society of Benedictines introduced from Normandy. A few days before 
his death the Earl was himself professed a monk of S. Werburgh's, by which 
name alone the Abbey became chiefly to be known. As a Benedictine 
establishment, the frequent subject of royal and other bounty, it descended 
with an interesting and varied career to the suppression. After his 
victorious expeditions against the Welsh, in a.d. 1283 ^d. I. with 
his Queen attended Mass at S. Werburgh's and on that occasion presented 
a cloth of great value. The monks, as we have hinted, shared numerous 
privil^es ; the right of having an enfranchised boat on the Dee, of fishing 
with one vessel and ten nets in An^lesea, and the tithe of all fish captured 
in the river were among them. Until the Dissolution, the tenth salmon 
caught from off the city bridge was ceded to them without intermission or 

B 



50 MONASTIC SEALS 

question. On the feast of S. Werburgh, who since her remains were 
brought to Chester has always been regarded as the especial patron of the 
city, a fair was held annually during which the merchants and purveyors 
ranged their booths before the great Abbey gate, the ground being strewn 
with reeds which a particular charter entitled the monks to gather from 
Stanlaw March. The tolls and profits of this fair formed part of the 
Abbey emoluments. For all forfeitures in it pleas were held in the court 
of S. Werburgh. Any malefactor who attended upon these occasions 
if not guilty of further offence was there unattachable. In its transactions 
the Abbey employed a rich instance of seal art. For a conception of 
its scheme we have to rely upon the woefuUy imperfect, yet fine and 
lucid fragment illustrated. Deplorable as is the absence of a perfect 
impression the nature of the vestige is sufificiently adequate to enable us to 
draw upon conjecture for such details as are wanting. Upon the obverse 
was displayed a detailed view in elevation and section of a Gothic structure, 
resembling that of a Church, with transepts and pinnacled tower in the 
centre at each angle of which flew a flag. In either transept stood the 
full-length figure of a monk; between them, under the circular-headed 
and cusped doorway of the tower, S. Werburgh with the staflT of 
an Abbess and book sat enthroned. In a trefoiled aperture created in 
the pediment of the tower occurred the head of a monk which, in 
quatrefoil panels, was repeated in the carved plinth of the base and in 
both transepts. 

SIGILL[UM : CONUENTUS : ECCL]ESIE[ : SA]NCTE[ : 

WERBURGE] 

The reverse also exhibited a Gothic facade which, though of 
^*:^TE different design, bore some resemblance to the preceding. 
XIX. Here, beneath the arch of the central tower sat upon a 

Seal 38. throne, crowned and supporting a sceptre fleury and orb 

surmounted by a cross, the martyred Northumbrian King, 
S. Oswald (the second patron), and in the transepts the monks give place 
to the full-length figures of SS. Peter and Paul (patrons of the original 
foundation and to whom legend relates a Church was erected here in the 
second century) with their usual emblems. Over the tower in the field 
appeared a wavy star on the left ; on the right probably a crescent, and in 
a quatrefoil below the plinth at the base a monk's head as before. 

UM : AM : MA [E : SIGILLUM :] 

The legend formed a rhyming hexameter verse. The designs of the seal 
described were magnificently conceived, as the elaboration of the facades 
evinces, expressed in the fullest detail, and executed with much skill. When 
perfect, the impressions must have been objects of considerable beauty, and 
even these which are imperfect can be said to be no less. The architectural 



CHESTER FRIARY 51 

work readily incites our admiration. To the incomplete state of the 
impression must be added an obvious spreading of the wax in some parts 
which remain, a circumstance which prevents an equable appreciation of 
the figures delineated; if they approached the standard reached in the 
depiction of the drapery of the two central fifirures they must have been 
artistically excellent Out of the dissolved Abbey Hen. VIIL erected 
the bishopric of Chester, and allotted as a Cathedral the Church 
annexed. The conventual buildings occupied an almost entire fourth of 
the city, an instructive statement as to the ancient importance of the 
Abbey. The Cathedral consists of nave and choir, central tower, transepts 
and lady chapel. Opposite the pulpit, in the choir, is the stone case 
which formerly surrounded the shrine of S. Werburgh. Shortened, it is 
now employed as the Bishop's throne. The south transept was used until 
A.D. 1882 as the parish Church of S. Oswald. During the civil war the 
Cathedral sustained great injury. The Bishopric was endowed with a 
portion only of the possessions of this Abbey. 



Carmelite Friary of S. Mary. 

A THIRTEENTH century foundation indebted for its institution 
Yv^v ^^ Thomas Stadham, gendeman. It stood within the parish 
XXXIV. Qf s. Martin, and in a street still called White Friars on that 
Seal 67. account. Attached to it was a splendid Church, with a steeple 

(erected a.d. 1496, and destroyed a century later) of great 
beauty and height, "the only sea-mark for direction over the bar of 
Chester." Information concerning the Friary is very slight. The 
Prior's seal, an official not personal specimen, forms the subject of our 
corresponding illustration which is derived from an excellent impression. 
Conjecturally, in point of date it is equivalent to that of the establishment 
of Uie Carmelites here, a.d. 1279, and on that assumption rather a 
late instance of our period. Within a beaded bordure, the device 
comprehended the B. Virgin standing upon a carved corbel, holding the 
Child upon her left arm between two candles in candlesticks, introduced in 
a devotional sense. 

• S' • FORK • CESTRIE • FRM • DE • CARMELO. 
A minor exemplification^ pious and artistic without any special claims to 
the final definition. In such tiny instances^ as considering their size 
could scarcely be expected, seldom was a high standard attained. 
The f^ure of the Virgin in its pose is fairly dignified, but in its 
modelling, proportion anddraping does not sustain acute categorical criticism. 
The features are good, and not without emotion. As regards the 



52 MONASTIC SEALS 

candlesticks, these it will be observed do not mountain the perpendicular. 
Upon the whole, in a collection of this nature where pmbrce artistic 
value fluctuates it is not misplaced. All that now remains of the Friarv 
buildings is a doorway. After the Dissolution a mansion, now destroyed, 
was raised upon the site. At present it is occupied by a venerable house 
used as chambers— called the Friars — in which the doorway referred to is 
incorporated. 



CHICH (or S. Osyth's), Austin Canons' Priory of 
SB. Peter, Paul, and Osyth, co. Essex. 

A NOBLB foundation which lay within the hundred of 
PJ^TE Tendring eleven miles distant from Colchester. It possessed 
^* gresLt wealth, and the repute of being the most ancient monastic 

Seal ioo. institution erected in the county. According to tradition it 

was founded originally by S. Osyth. S. Osyth was a daughter 
of Redwald, King of the East Angles. Having made a vow of perpetual 
virginity she retired here, it is related, and built a nunnery for herself and 
a number of maidens similarly disposed. About a.d. 635, tradition 
continues, the setdement was devasted by the Danes, and the foundress 
beheaded near a fountain adjacent. Upon the legendary site of the 
convent Richard Beauvais, Bishop of London, c. a.d. 1118, established 
a Priory for Austin Canons under the patronage above indicated. As was 
usually the case^ it became popularly known as S. Osyth*s. The first Prior 
was William de Corboil who succeeded, a.d. 1122, Radulius de Turbine 
in the Archbishopric of Canterbury. His elevation revived the ancient 
controversy for precedence between Canterbury and York. He obtained 
of Hen. I. the custody of the casde of Rochester, which gave him a feudal 
position of supreme importance and enabled him to take an active part in 
the contest for the throne which broke out on the accession of Stephen. 
He had taken the oath of alle^ance to the Empress Maud, but took the 
chief part in the coronation of King Stephen and joined that prince after 
the nobility of the kingdom had acknowledged him. It is the ad causas 
seal of the canons which affords the subject of our illustration obtained 
by means of a perfect impression. Within a beaded bordiu-e the design 
comprises a pointed canopy (with trefoiled arch) supported by pillais, 
upon the top of which rests a Church-like structure and under which 
S. Osyth, clad as an Abbess, stands upon a carved corbel in profile to 
the right holding her dissevered head, with the emblem of S. Peter (key) 
on the right, that of S. Paul (sword) on the left of the field. Thus 



COLCHESTER PRIORY 53 

the scheme is commemorative of all three patrons but responding to popular 
feeUng gives the^ greater prominence to the royal and virgin martjrr. 

y • ECCE • SCE : OSYTHE • DE : CHIC : AD • CAS. 
A good example — archaic, essentially, in type. Engraved in high relief and 
good style of art In the architectiire at the apex lies its only weakness, but 
this reveals negligence of treatment rather than want of capacity to treat. 
The saintly form is artistic and praiseworthy from every point. It is well 
drawn, skilfully draped, and reveals in the countenance remarkable 
clearness, truth, and expression. By no means one of the richer, but 
assuredly one of the finer of the remains we are considering. The strange 
delineation of S. Osjrth seen here is not peculiar to her. Various Saints 
who endured martyrdom by decapitation were usually so depicted. Legend 
attaches to some the rejoining of the head and body with a further period 
of life, to others miraculous walks and flights in the circumstances under 
which S. Osjrth is depicted here— carrying their heads in their hands. 
The remains of the Priory are considerable. Except on the north side, 
which is occupied by some comparatively modern apartments, the quadrangle 
is almost entire. A beautiful gateway of hewn stone mixed with flint with 
two towers and posterns also continue, and three towers to the east The 
structure now forms a private residence. On the east and west sides of 
the court are oflices which shew traces of great antiquity. 



COLCHESTER, Austin Canons' Priory of SS. Julian 

and Botulph, co. Essex. 

^^ A COMPARATIVELY Small establishment, of considerable archi- 
PLATE tectural beauty if the remains of the Chiuch which adjoined 
^"* aflford any indication. It is reputed to have been the first 

Seal 14. house of the Augustinian order raised in England, but to this 

distinction there were other claimants. Not far distant from 
the mitred Abbey of the Benedictines, it stood to the south of the town. 
Founded by a monk named Ernulph, who endowed the Priory with its 
site and surrounding gardens, obtained a.d. 1116 of Pope Paschal a Bull 
enriching it with extraordinary liberties, and became first Prior. Other 
benefactors— of whom Hugh FitzStephen was one, and Bristerd another — 
shordy afterwards added to its possessions. Hen. I., after endowing the 
canons with all the tithes of his demesnes in Hatfield R^s confirmed to 
them the land and houses they possessed in Colchester, Ginterbury and 
elsewhere, the third part of a mill under the casde and the seijeancy 
with this curious stipulation, that whenever he or those who came after him 



54 MONASTIC SEALS 

made war in Wales they should furnish for the King*s use one horse of 
five shillings price, a sack and a spur for forty days. A chipped and 
indistinct impression of the seal illustrated reveals the design to have 
comprehended beneath a trefoiled arch, our Lord with cruciform nimbus, 
raising the right Hand in benediction, seated on a sculptured throne between 
the two patrons (depicted at three-quarters length), S. Botulph vested as 
an Abbot with book and staff, S. Julian as a Bishop with mitre and staff. 
In the base under another trefoiled arch is a Church, with tall central spire 
placed between a star and crescent. S. Julian was Bishop of Toledo. 
S. Botulph was born of noble parents early in the seventh century. He 
became a Benedictine monk, and erected a monastery the site of which is 
indefinite but commonly considered to have been on the river Witham, 
where stands the town of Boston. The Church there is dedicated to him, 
and the name of the town is a corruption of that of the Saint. Bishop 
Ethdwold divided his relics between Ely and Thorney. 
SIGILU ECCLESIE : SANCTI [: BOT]VLFI : DE : COLECESTR' 
Although the destruction wrought by man upon the superb Priory Church 
was far greater than the havoc of time upon the impression before us we 
cannot but deplore both. The result in the latter case has been to leave 
us indistinctness where particularly we would have liked lucidity, since 
from the standpoint of art the seal Tan early instance) was obviously a 
very valuable one. Appraisement of the niceties of portrayal is in the 
circumstances impossible, but this is manifest, that the scheme was not 
only excellent but fervently artistic, and that the figures were well drawn 
and gracefully vested. The design tells its own story — Christ counselling 
the two patrons in their care of the Church, which was placed under it 
Ruins of the Priory which was destroyed at the Dissolution there are now 
none. During the si^e by the Parliamentary forces a.d. 1648 the 
Church was in a great measure demolished, but considerable remains — 
fine Early Norman examples — as already hinted, still stand. 



COMBE (or Cumbe), Cistercian Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. Warwick. 

A SPLENDID foundation of great resources, famed throughout 
^^^^^ four centuries for the liberad hospitality it dispensed daily to 
^•^* strangers and the necessitous. Upon its site stands " Combe 

Seal 40. Abbey " (the seat of the Earl of Craven), a mansion erected 

early in the seventeenth century in which three sides of the 
cloister were incorporated. Founded by Richard de Camvilla, a nobleman, 
c. A.D. 1 1 50, whose son Gerard, with his wife Nichola de Haya, made a 



COMBE ABBEY 55 

donation for the fit commemoration for ever of his anniversary. The 
munificence of numerous other generous persons contributed to the 
extensive possessions the house in time acquired, and numerous privileges 
and immunities were bestowed by royal favour. Hen. II. gave the monks 
free warren, court-leet, felon's goods, and the right to judge in their own 
court thieves caught within their fee or any dwelling tnerein arrested for 
felony elsewhere, and freed them from service to the county or hundred 
court, from toll and other crown customs. Rich. I. also excused them 
from toll, and from the maintenance of highways and bridges. Hen. III. 
decreed their immunity from fine for murder committed within their 
liberties. At the Abbey gate, every Maundy Thursday a constitutional 
delivery to the poor was made of four shillings and eight pence in money, 
as much bread as ten quarters of rye would make, as much beer as three 
quarters of malt would yield, and three hundred herrings. The seal 
of the chapter, an interesting armorial instance, is that illustrated in 
correspondence with this note from an impression which is complete 
but indistinct in places. The design conveys two trefoiled canopies 
supported bv slender pillars, that on the left containing a full-length repre- 
sentation of the B. Virgin, crowned and supporting the Holy Inrant, 
that on the right, also at full length, the fi^e of an Abbot vested for 
mass with staflFand book, probably intended lor S. Robert, who a.d. 1098 
founded the order at Citeaux. In the field, which is diapered, on either 
side of the arcading is a tree, and in the base the Abbey arms (those of 
England) three lions passant guardant, in chief a label of^ five points, sup- 
ported by lions. ^ 

SIGILL* • COMVNE • CAPITVLI • MONACHOR • DE • CVBA. 
Although our illustration sufiFers obviously from the occasional want of 
clearness denoted in the impression, it is sufiiciendy lucid to evince the 
scheme of the seal to have been beautiful in its perception, happy in its 
execution, and artistic in its realization. The draping and pose of the 
figures are excellent, that of the Virgin, with its studied labouring under 
the weight of the sacred burden, being particularly admirable. The entire 
detail — for example, the Abbot's stafi^ — ^was introduced with minuteness and 
care. In * the shield we have the charges treated in that quaint and 
delightful spirit which modern heralds find so difiicult, if not impossible, 
to emulate. By this graceful and devotional instance the contemporary 
excellence of the art its contrivance involved is largely manifested. The 
cloisters referred to which remain are Norman. After the Dissolution, 
when the house contained fourteen monks, the site was granted by 
Ed. VI. to the Earl of Warwick. Upon his execution it passed to 
Robert Kelway with whose daughter it came to Lord Harrington who 
buUt "Combe Abbey." 



56 MONASTIC SEALS 

COMBWELL, Austin Canons' Priory of S. Mary Magdalene, 

CO. Kent. 

A SMALL house, founded it is said as an Abbey and reduced 
*^1^ * E in consequence of its great poverty, which disallowed the state 
^^* of an Abbot, to a Priory. The site chosen for its erection. 

Seal 3. anciendy called Henlie, lies within the manor of Combwell, 

which is situate in the parish of Goudhurst formerly one of 
the seats of the Kentish woollen trade. There are now no architectural 
vestiges, but a farmhouse marks its precise location. Founded in the 
reign of Hen. 11. by Robert de Turneham, who endowed with certain 
adjacent lands. In the generosity of a Lord Dacre it participated 
and because of this, accormng to Leland, he was esteemed the second 
founder. Never were its possessions extensive. In the reign of 
Rich. II. its annual revenue was returned at no more than sixty- 
seven pounds. The Prior paid homage to the Archbishop of Canterbury 
by whom he was installed. In lieu of induction fees, the Primate 
enjoyed the right to tarry two nights and one day and receive the 
while sufficient meat and drink. Hen. III. granted an annual fair 
on the feast and morrow of S. Mary Magdalene. The subject of 
the plate which relates to this note was the second and last seal of 
the Priory, supplied by a remarkably fine and lucid impression. 
According to the legend of the reverse it was contrived a.d. 1133, but 
than is an obvious anachronism. The nature of its art assigns it mth 
more convincing probability to the century with which we are in this work 
primarily concerned. The design obversdy presents an architectural 
elevation (doubdess intended for the Priory Church details of which it 
might supply), with a circular tower on either side, a large trefoiled 
arch in tne centre, and two narrow windows and three apertures 
(one circular, the remaining trefoiled, each containing the head of a 
canon) in the pediment. Under the archway a graphic representation 
based upon the gospel of S. Luke (vii. 50) is depicted — our Lord seated 
at a banqueting table in the house of the Pharisee between two of His 
disciples (who are nimbussed), with Mary Magdalene beneath washing 
His feet with her tears and wiping them with her hair. Over the roof of 
the structure appears a star and crescent ; on the edge of the table the 
inscription : — 

Maria : fides : tua 

Tb : SALVAM : F£CIT, 

below, on the right, the demons who have been cast out of the Saint 
(Mark xvi. 91), and in the centre a small box of ointment, the emblem 
of the Magdalene. 



CX)MBWELL PRIORY 57 

+SIGILL' ECCLESIE : SANCTE : MARIE : MAGDALENE : 

DE : CVMBWELL\ 

The reverse also exhibits a dramatic subject of the New 
* ^-ATE Testament, one very popular with mediaeval artists, and 
^^* recorded in S. John's Gospel (xx. 17) — ^the Noli me iangere. 

Skal 4* Under a carved circular headed arch, upheld by two clustered 

shafts with pinnacles, here our Lord is seen holding in the 
right Hand a long cross with banner flag, first appearing vter the 
Resurrection in the Garden to S. Mary Magdalene, who, under two 
trees lies prostrate before Him. On each side of the field is a circular 
aperture which contains the head of a canon as on the obverse. 

*FACTVM : ANNO : GRATIE 2 M° : C : XXX : TERCIO : 

MENSE : NOVEMBRI. 
Both l^nds appear on raised rims. The singularly pictorial seal 
above described, at once original and unique, afibrds one of the more 
striking examples, not only of our class and period but of the whole 
domain of seal art. Nor is the measure of its interest less commensurate ; 
in this it is equalled by few, excelled by none. Even to us, possessing 
some fimiiliarity with the range of subject, its intensely graphic and 
realistic character and vivid eloquence comes as a revelation. Had the 
pictorial note it sounded been struck with more freauency the 
archaeological and other values of seal remains would nave been 
enlarged more than a thousandfold. The story of the Magdalene 
is both beautiful and touching; in its realization here it has not lost 
a shade of its beauty or pathos. The spirit which governs the 
relation of S. Luke and the other evangelists dominates in this. It 
is told with all the feeling that could be instilled into the finest 
sacred oratory, and we can recall no work upon canvas or in stone 
where the narrative is more fervent or artistic. In their perception 
both schemes are masterly, and in their execution wonderful dexterity 
is manifest. The architecture of the two displavs unusual treatment; 
that on the obverse is pure and simple to a degree. But it is the 
figure studies which root our attention. Their disposition is in absolute 
harmony. Not a false line or curve is visible, on the contrary in 
their attitude and ordering high artistic excellence allied with fidelity 
to nature. It was not without intention that the figure of Christ 
rises in its proportions above the disciples. His features are in 
both presentments unhappily obscured by the state of the impression, 
as are partially those of the remaining figures but the perfect litde head 
of the canon in the circular aperture of the pediment enlis^htens us, 
that as rq;ards the artist capacity for facial drawing was his. The 
disciple on the right is intensely interested in the Divine confession 



58 MONASTIC SEALS 

that ^^ He is a friend to sinners not to maintain them in sin, 
but to forgive them their sins upon faith and repentance." When 
Jesus said ** I have somewhat to say to thee/' it is Simon, on the left who, 
troubled, saith ** Master, say on," and after the parable, when asked 
which forgiven debtor would love his creditor the most answers perforce 
•* I suppose that be to whom the most was forgiven." The only weakness 
apparent is the figure of the Magdalene in the first scheme, but her 
delineation in the second compensates. She was weeping disconsolately 
in the Garden. A voice arrests her ear, " Woman, why weepest thou ? 
Whom seekest thou ? and she supposing Him to be the gardener, saith 
unto Him, Sir, if thou hast borne him hence, tell me where thou hast 
laid him, and I will take him away. Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She 
turned herself and saith unto him • . • • Master" — this is the 
moment of the picture our artist has so feelingly narrated here. The 
abandon and emotion thrown into the prostrate figure are altogether 
praiseworthy. Throughout, the vestures are irreproachable. Of the ngures 
the finest is certainly that of Christ in the Garden. Besides its other 
merits, the anatomical detail of the part uncovered is distinctly good. 
The spread of the banquet table is quite convincing, whilst the trees, 
which are conventional, possess a grace of their own. Even if we ignore 
the restrictions of the art, and mentally concede it every freedom we are 
unable to regard this seal otherwise than as a magnificent work of art ; if we 
recall the one and dismiss the other, to esteem it as an extraordinary one. 

As one of those houses whose revenues did not amount to the clear 
annual value of ;^200, Combwell Priory was suppressed in the 27th of 
Hen. VIIL 



COVERHAM, Prcmonstratcnsian Abbey, 

CO. York. 

An interesting house of the North Riding erected near the 
*^^^T^ one-arched bridge which spans the river Cover. Substantial 
XXIII. remains indicate exactly the situation. Whilst it held the 
Seal 4c. dignity of an Abbey its possessions were too few to easily 

support it So great was its poverty in the fourteenth 
century that dissolution threatened it. The foundation was first instituted 
at Swainby in the parish of Pickhall, towards the end of the reign of 
Hen. IL, by Helewisia, daughter of Ranulph de Glanvill (the great Lord 
Chief Justice of England) and widow of Robert FitzRanulph, Lord of 
Middleham (who buUt the Norman portions of Middleham Caistle), and 



COVERHAM ABBEY 59 

provided for by her. Other grants followed, Hen. II. confirming all up 
to his time. After a residence of over twenty years at Swainby, the 
canons in the reign of King John were removed hither by Ralph 
FitzRobert, Lord of Middleham, son of the foundress, who at the same 
time conveyed to them considerable lands and the Church of Coverham. 
Ralph FitzRobert caused his mother's remains to be interred within 
the new foundation, and was himself afterwards buried there. According 
to a charter granted by Ed. II. the monastery was destroyed by 
the Scots, and it was this calamity which wrought its destitution. 
Its fortunes, however, revived and permitted of its continuation for 
three centuries longer. A fine impression enables us to afiford a 
good view of the character and merits of the Abbey seal. The 
design comprehended, upon a diapered field with what may have been 
intended for a rose in each space, a canopy pinnacled and crocketted 
and upheld by slender shafts, under which an ecclesiastical figure is 
depicted standing upon a scidptured corbel, holding a staff with the 
crook outwards in the right hand and a book in the left. Outside 
the canopy, on either side, is the figure of a canon, that on the 
right standing, the corresponding one kneeling upon the platform, 
and over them a star and crescent respectively. Superficially the central 
figure would appear to have been intended for the Abbot, but the 
devotional attitude of the sinister canon rejects that view. Probably 
it was designed either for S. Augustine, or S. Norbert who founded 
the order upon his rule. 

S' COE : CAPITVLI : DE : COVERHAM. 
Both beautiful and artistic is this little instance. But it is perhaps in the 
apprehension of the design rather than in the measure of pains bestowed 
upon the execution of detail that its claims to the latter description 
chiefly lie. The artist obviously aimed at richness and efiTect and 
succeeded, but in reaching the objective strict accuracy of drawing was 
regarded of less importance. In our criticismi however, we must not 
forget the extreme limitations of the field, nor the frequent dangers 
with which impressions were involved by relaxation of the wax. As 
regards the first reminder here, as n'equently elsewhere, we are 
struck with the wealth of imagery which the engraver contrived to 
get within his space. The seal, even with the bordure, does not 
measure more in diameter than one inch and five-eights. 

Three bays of the Churchy in the Decorated style, and a gatehouse 
constitute the chief remains, but many other fragments are visible whilst 
all the foundations can be traced. Amidst the ruins are two cross-legged 
effiffies which it has been suggested were designed for Robert FitzRaniuph 
and his son the second founder. 



6o MONASTIC SEALS 

CROXTON, Premonstratensian Abbey of S. John the Evangelist^ 

CO. Leicester. 

Another of the thirty-five houses following S. Norbert*s 
*^1^^^ interpretation of S. Aumistine's rule which stood at the time 
AL«viii. Qf ijig Dissolution. It was erected about seven miles S.E. of 
Seal q6. Grantham, held a fair estate, and was the means of vesting a 

certain measure of fame in mediaeval times Croxton-Keyrial 
(of the hundred of Framland) wherein it stood. In the time of Hen. II. it 
was founded, according to one account by William Porcarius de Linus, 
according to another by one Sir Andrew Lutterell, Knight. King 
John, to whom one of the Abbots was physician, became a benefactor and 
within the Church his bowels were interred. Annexed to the Abbey was a 
cell at Horneby, Lanes. In the reign of Ed. III. the superior house 
through fire was almost entirely destroyed, and by pestilence all the canons 
except the Abbot and Prior perished. In consequence of these calamities, 
because of the infirmity of^the Abbot, and moreover because the lonely 
circumstances of the spot afforded no security for the money, the institution 
was exempted from collecting the tenth for the latter king. For a 
view of the seal employed by it we have to rely upon an impression 
which, although fine in the nature of things, is incomplete and has been 
rendered to some extent indistinct. The design comprehended within a 
beaded bordure the B. Virgin, nimbussed, seated on a carved bench-like 
throne, with the Holy Chilc^ also nimbussed, sitting on the left knee, and 
with her feet resting upon an eagle (the symbol of the evangelical patron) 
reguardant, who has in its talons a scroll inscribed : — ioh*bs. 
[*S]IGILL* : COVET : SCI : lOHlS : DE : VALLE : DE : 

CROXT • . . , 

Although the subject of our illustration lacks sharpness of oudine it is not 
necessary to have before us a more lucid impression of the seal to arrive at 
its artistic value. Criticism as applied to the delicacies of limning must in 
the circumstances be foregone, but a simple view of the scheme as 
presented is sufiicient to induce us to hail it as an instance of monastic 
seal art devoudy conceived, cleverly wrought, and altogether beautiful. 
The disposition of the figures and the depiction of drapery indicate and 
emphasize careful drawing and graceful handling, whilst in the presentment 
of the symbolic bird we recognise that part-natural and part-conventional 
treatment of the various elements of zoolc^ for which the mediaeval 
artist was unsurpassed. Whether intentional or not it is obviously now 
impossible to determine, but in the association of the B. Virgin with the 
ttigle, and the juxtaposition of the two figures there lies a significance 
either weighty or fanciful In our Introduction (p. 23) we have briefly 



CROYLAND ABBEY 6i 

demonstrated the extraordinaiy devotion experienced by people of the 
Middle Ages to the Mother of God, and the remarkable and far-reaching 
culius to which it gave rise. To both, her presence in the scheme under 
examination testifies, and for it by placing her above the symbol of one of 
the Evangelists it would appear a conviction was expressed that the 
apohpa was to be found in the Gospels. Premising, as we well may, 
there was some governing idea in the association and juxtaposition it is 
difficult to reach any other equally feasible conjecture. 



CROYLAND, Benedictine Abbey of SS. Mary, Bartholomew, 

and Guthlac, co. Lincoln. 

One of the more illustrious of our destroyed monastic 
^^^**' centres, endowed with singular privileges, and ranking in 
^* point of riches with the greater of them. Not the least of 

Seal id. ^^ fdstat, it enjoyed was due to the hospitality and charity it 

exercised upon a truly gigantic scale. It was erected on an 
island in the east marshlands of the county. In it the town of Croyland 
(or Crowland) originated, and to it was beholden for an extended 
growth and importance in mediaeval times. The Abbey sprang from a 
hermitage. In the reign of Cenred of Mercia, Guthlac, a young and noble 
warrior, abandoned arms for the cowl and sought solitude here. He 
erected a habitation and dwelt here for some years obtaining through his 
great sanctity prophetic and miraculous powers. In a.d. 709 Ceolred reached 
the throne of Mercia, and whilst he governed (a.d. 709-16) never 
ceased from persecuting his cousin Ethelbald who also aspired to the 
kingdom. In despair and for security the Earl fled to ** Crowland,*' and 
sought consolation and counsel of Guthlac his confessor. Guthlac 
assured him of ultinute success, whereupon Ethelbald vowed that when 
this was realized he would buUd a monastery here. After he became 
seated on the throne Guthlac, who meanwhile had died, appeared to the 
King in a vision and reminded him of his promise. In fulfilment 
Ethelbald founded this Abbey, which was raised upon a foundation of piles 
demanded by the marshy character of the soil. He contributed towards 
its erection diree hundred pounds in money, gave it one hundred pounds 
annually for ten years, and endowed with the whole island, parts of the 
adjacent marsh and two fisheries. In the Church the relics or S. Guthlac 
were enshrined. Upon the Abbey other Saxon monarchs dispensed great 
favours. Kenulph decreed that all pilgrims to the shrine ot S. Guthlac, 
the miraculous fame of whose relics was great and wide, who. returned 



62 MONASTIC SEALS 

from Croyland with his mark upon their hoods should be ever freed 
from toll throughout the kingdom. Witlaf, King of Mercia, when pursued 
by Egbert was concealed by the monks ; in return for the protection shewn 
him, besides bestowing rich gifts, he gave the privilege of sanctuary within 
the five waters. The Abbey was assailed by the Danes. At their approach, 
concealing part of their treasure in a well, some of the monks fled to the 
woods, thirty remaining with the Abbot. After their arrival, the Northmen 
destroyed and plundered Church and Abbey, murdered the Abbot, and 
tortured and slew the rest. In a.d. 948 the monastery was rebuilt and 
re-endowed with all its ancient possessions and privileges, except sanctuary. 
Towards the dose of the eleventh century it was destroyed by fire and 
rebuilt. Fifty years later it was again burnt and rebuilt in greater 
splendour. From thence it flourished, increasing in fame, wealth, and 
importance to the end, but anything like a summary even of its 
intermediate history is not here feasible. One of its most prized relics 
was the whip of S. Bartholomew which had been g^ven with the psalter of 
S. Guthlac and other treasures by Pega his sister. The second seal 
of the house affords the subject of our illustration, derived from a fair 
impression. It displavs, beneath a carved canopy resembling a Church 
and upon an arched footboard, the Apostle S. Bartholomew with 
book, handling the flagellum mentioned to S. Guthlac. Between the 
figures is seen a bush with a bird, one of the emblems of the latter, 
upon it. Both the whip and knife of S. Bartholomew figured in the 
Abbey arms. 

SIGILU COMMVNE ABBATIS ET CONVENTVS 

CROYLANDIE. 
An efiFective, as well as graphic exemplification. Conceived with some 
vigour and, as far as the state of the impression reproduced enables us to 
conclude, executed with equal skill. The drawing of the venerable figure 
on the left particularly seems to have called forth a more strenuous effort 
on the part of the engraver. The figure, curiously, is somewhat Assyrian 
in effect. Croyland Abbey was not deliberately destroyed but left to 
decay. The Parliamentary war completed the havoc of time and neglect. 
Considerable vestiges of a beautiful and majestic character yet remain, 
illustrating the Norman and successive styles. Principally they comprise 
the western piers of the east part of the Church, and parts of nave 
and aisles. The north aisle of the nave has been restored and is 
now used parochially. It. forms a very handsome building — with a 
low massive tower — ^which exhibits chiefly the later style of English 
architecture. The west front is highly ornate and contains various 
statues, including those of SS. Gudilac and Bartholomew and King 
Ethelbald. 



DOVER PRIORY 63 

DOVER, Benedictine Priory of SS. Mary and Martin, 

CO. Kent. 

A ROYAL and splendid house of the highest antiquity — its 
*^^TE origin being traditionally assigned to the Apostolic, and 
*^* historically to the Augustinian conversion — rendered famous 

Seal 17. through its r^^al associations and connection with the renowned 

fortress and port, the highway to France, and with Christ 
Church Canterbury. Its site was on the western side of the market-place. 
According to legend, in the ancient castle supposed to have been 
founded either by Julius C«sar or Claudius a chapel was raised for the 
use of early converts to Christianity. That a religious settlement thus 
aggregated continued without intermission until the arrival of S. Augustine 
is highly improbable. It is more certain that Eadbald, King of Kent, 
established before a.d. 640 within the fortess a society of secular canons 
which he endowed with prebends and privileges. About a.d. 696, 
Wightred, King of Kent, having erected a church in honor of S. Martin, 
and buildings for their reception without the castle removed the 
canons thither, reinvested them with their original liberties and possessions, 
and declared them free from all jurisdiction save regal and papal. 
Up to the time of the Confessor, when the town of Dover had reached a 
flourishing condition, the prebends were held in common. After the 
surrender of the casde the Conqueror appointed his brother Odo, 
Bishop of Bayeux, governor who separated them. In Domesday the 
names of the canons and particulars of their holdings are all set out. The 
possessions of the Priory becoming very extensive, at an early time the 
Archbishops of Canterbury felt a great desire to annex it to Christ Church, 
and A.D. 1 1 30 (up to which time it had preserved its independence) 
Archbishop Corbou succeeded in obtaining it from Hen. I. for that 
purpose. He ejected the seculars, suppressed the house, and to replace 
it, in the next year laid the foundations of another without the walls 
in honor of SS. Mary and Martin. The Archbishop died before the 
new building was finished. His successor, Theobald, completed it and 
A.D. 1 139 established therein a community under Benedictine rule with 
Asceline, the sacristan of Christ Church, as Prior. From thence until the 
Dissolution, although frequent disputes arose concerning jurisdiction and 
privilege, Dover Priory remained subordinate to that of Canterbury. In the 
reign of Rich. 11. they were defined as separate establishments for revenue 
puq>oses, a relation preserved to the end. Counted amongst its Priors 
was Richard who succeeded S. Thomas a Becket in the chair of Canterbury. 
During the notorious contention at Westminster for archiepiscopal 
precedence, it was he who sat in the lap of York. In the time of 



64 MONASTIC SEALS 

Hen. IL, who principally built the castle as it stands, the Priory was in the 
enjoyment of the ancient tenth of herrings. This, with its possessions and 
a new tenth of the years fishery which the burgesses offered upon the altar, 
the King confirmed to it. It owned a vduable library and enjoyed 
considerable privil^es which included assize of bread and beer, wrealoige 
in the manor of D^e ; pillory, tumbrdl, and toll in S. Margaret's, and ^e 
remarkable prerogative that Mass should begin in the Priory Church before 
it was commenced in any other of the town. The Holy Sacrifice was 
delayed in all the rest until a bell signalled its commencement at 
S. Martin's. Of the house, the second seal constitutes the subject of our 
illustration, furnished by an imperfect and occasionally indistinct yet fine 
impression. It is of two parts, and the designs dually recount the 
legend of the patron, S. Martin of Tours, for particulars of which reference 
must be made to our Introduction (p. 25). The scheme of the obverse 
comprehends the first part of the story — ^the division of his cloak with the 
beggar. Within it is seen the Saint, nimbussed, astride a caparisoned 
horse (pacing on hilly ground around the base of which washes wavy 
water allusive of Dover's situation), cleaving his cloak, a part of which the 
attenuated form of a beggar who stands under an arched doorway with 
embattied parapet, raises his hands to receive. In the field occurs an 
increscent moon containing a star and a lustrous sun, and in the for^round 
what is apparendy a roundle or stud enclosed in a circle apprehended to 
be a late addition or a defect in the matrix. 

• SIGILL SIE • SCI • MARTINI • DE • DOVORIA. 

The reverse conveys the second part of the legend — 
J^^-^T'^ S. Martin's vision the night following his charitable act The 
IX. scheme, in this instance much more ornate and detailed than 

Seal 18. ^^ preceding, exhibits two architectural canopies, pinnacled and 

crocketed, one at the apex (the larger), the other on the sinister 
side of the field. Under the first the half-lengtii and nimbussed figure of 
Christ is seen issuing from the clouds, holding the abandoned half of the 
Saint's cloak and raising his right in benediction, attended on either side bv a 
censing angel also reduced in the figurt. Lying at length upon a couch with 
an arched plinth and shrouded, is S. Martin, his head nimbussed and placed 
below the second canopy. On the right, corresponding in position with the 
last-named detail occur a chamber lamp and several ornaments — ^whed, 
escallop, and trefoil — ^and below the couch a conventional flowering branch. 

MARTINI • VES[TE • ] SVM • TECTjTS • PjAVPERE • TESTE : 
The seal described, the design of which was transmitted from another also 
of the thirteenth century the use of which preceded it, is so instinctivelv 
charming and quaint as to almost repel cold criticism. An artist wim 
unerring instinct but qualified skill often expresses his ideas with greater 



DOVER PRIORY 6$ 

truth and conviction than one in whom capacity is superior to mind Of 
these two categories the artist responsible for the seal of Dover Priory 
belongs to the first ; the effect or his work is that more common to it 
There are certain obvious weaknesses, but where it fails is in execution, 
not in conception — in its expression, not in the im^nation which 
inspired, or in the feeling with which it was conveyed The l^nd itself 
is alive with poetry and beauty, reduced not one whit in its transmission 
to the mind of the artist — a mind which realized all it contained 
and delighted in it — ^nor in its articulation through the channel of his 
art. The natural division of the story was designedly followed in its 
narration, with the result that we have, as it were, its obverse and reverse, 
the committal of a praiseworthy action with its inevitable reward. In this 
respect our artist rose superior to some of his fellows who we find forced 
successive actions into one scene. As regards the joint design, in the 
restricted art of seal engraving — ^perhaps in others less circumscribed — ^it 
would be impossible to mve a treatment of the subject more intensely 
artistic than that we find bestowed here. Of the secret of producing 
through a diminutive vehicle eflects of laige proportion, the designer 
was a master, as the vigorous and bold delineation of the horse and 
Saint upon the obverse reveals. The limitations of space he seems to 
have ignored ; we lose sight of them too ; forgetting the actual dimensions 
we appear to be studying objects of far greater size. Here and there 
the anatomy of the horse sufifers through imperfect drawing, but the 
pose of the rider is all that we could have expected It was not 
without intention that the beggar was presented in such great attenuation, 
but to emphasize the depth of his poverty, to reveal the horror of 
poverty, and therefore to heighten the merit of the act of chari^ 
involved. In poetry we find the equivalent of the figure in Shakespeare s 
apothecary. Upon the reverse, too, we see in action the secret we 
have alluded to as being at work in the obverse. We might look in 
vain through seal art, religious or civil, for a more homely, or curious 
illustration than that which the couched f^ure yields. From the elevation 
of the feet, in consequence of a shortness of the couch, we gather 
the artist was a realist as well as a visionary. The indistinctness of the 
impression forbids our estimating precisely the artistic merits of the saindy 
figure of the obverse and from a similar cause, beyond appraising highly 
their disposition and general eflect, we are prevented from criticising 
those portrayed here. The covering which enshrouds S. Martin is 
excellendy and naturally treated but the elimination of a few superfluous 
details would have gready assisted the lucidity of the scheme. Of the 
more remarkable monastic seal examples this is assuredly one. And 
it is possible that a proper impression would enforce the conviction that a 



66 MONASTIC SEALS 

higher skill was involved in its execution than we think is apparent from 
that illustrated. In interest it is quite unsurpassed. 

The present architectural remains of die Priorjr comprise principally 
the great gateway, house refectory with campanile, and the large refectory 
for strangers, long used as a bam but now as a school-room of the CoU^ 
raised upon the site. 



S. Marfs Hospital . 

A WILL endowed charity, also known as the Matson Dieu^ or 
PLATE God's House. Erected as a resting place for strangers, 
XXIL pilgrims, and indigent persons early in the reign of 

Seal 43. Hen. III. bv Hubert de Burgh, the famous Chief Justiciaiy 

of Englana who a.d. 12 17 defeated the French fleet off 
Dover. Provision was made by the founder for the maintenance of a 
Master, brethren, and sisters, and for all such as should resort hither. 
Hen. III., to whom Earl Hubert assigned the patronage, built the chapel 
adjoining and was present at its consecration. Making it an espeaal 
object of his consideration he granted to it manv charters. Here the 
Kings of Ei^land were accustomed to lodge on their way to and from the 
continent. To enumerate the several royal visits paid to Dover would fill a 
catalogue. It is safe to assume that each sovereign frt>m the time of its 
erection until the sixteenth century tarried within its walls at some period 
or other. The litde seal illustrated, frt>m an impression of the original 
matrix which was found in the Hospital grounds, belonged to Robert Nunn 
an ecclesiastic upon the foundation. It is a late example and displays 
under a niche with double arch, supported by two pinnacled and crocketted 

f>illars and surmounted by a group of church-like structures, on the 
eft a full-length representation of the B. Virgin carrying the Child, and on 
the right the kneeling figure of a monk turn^ towards her, and presenting 
a scroll inscribed : — mat di memento. Between the figures two slipped 
roses occur one above the other, possibly alluding to the B. Virgin — 
Rosa mystica. 

SIGILLVM • ROBERTI • NVNNI. 
A quaint litde instance this, devotional in its conception but with limited 
pretensions towards the artistic. As regards the architectural detail they 
reach no mean height, nevertheless ; the litde Churches at the apex are 
admirably given as are the E.E. pillars. The very limited area was 
opposed to delicate limning, yet the figures are not without a grace 
which commends. An attempt was obviously made to render the features 
of the B. Virgin pleasant and sympathetic which, it is equally apparent, 



ELSTOW ABBEY 67 

ended somewhat grotesquely. In the little monkish figure the ludicrous 

element is not very distant. 

Queen Mary converted the Hospital premises into an office for 
victualling the Navy. About seventy years since, the Q>rporation acquired 
and applied them to municipal uses which they still serve. The chapel 
is now the Session-house, the refectory the Town Hall. The structure 
is a handsome one. The fine stained glass (modern) of the W. window 

Presents, with several royal characters, the figure of the renowned Chief 
ustice. 

ELSTOW, or Hclcnstowc, Benedictine Abbey of the Holy Trinity, 

SS. Mary and Helena, co. Bedford. 

Anciently and popularly styled the " Abbey of Blessed Mary 
^^Tj of Elstowe." It was in the tenure of nuns, owned a large 

XXIII. estate, and lav distant about a mile and a half from Bedford. 
Seal 46. '^^ once ac^acent Church, a beautiful example of Nomian 

architecture now employed parochically, indicates the site. 
Founded c. a.d. 1078 by a niece of the G)nqueror — ^Judith, wife of 
Waltheof, Earl of Huntingdon, bv whom it was endowed with divers fair 
lands. Under her, the Domescuy instructs us the nuns held several 
hides. Its possessions became eactended, to some extent through gifts made 
occasionally by parents who placed their daughters upon the foundation. 
Hen. II, annexed to it the Churches of Hiche and Westun. In the reign 
of Ed. I. we find the Abbess claiming immunity from all aids, gdd, 
danegeld, assizes, and other obligations. The impression of the seal 
employed by the devout ladies of Elstow, here in illustration, has sufiered 
at the edges by chipping, and throughout by pressure. In design it 
comprises, supported by pinnacled pillars, a double-arched niche from the 
centre of which rises a pinnacled tower, with tabernacle work slanting 
towards and reaching the supports. The niche on the left is occupied by 
the crowned and seated figure of the B. Virmn (the second person of the 
triune dedication) holding (perhaps suckling) the Infant Jesus, nimbussed, 
upon her lefr knee. In the space on the right appears the full-length 
representation of S. Helena (the final dedicatory) crowned, holding in one 
hand a long Cross rudely shaped^ and a book in the other. The platform 
upon which the figures stand is raised in the centre semi-circularly, to 
admit of a trefoil^ cavity which contains the Abbess, supporting her 
stafiT and attended by three nuns. 

S' COMMVNE : C[APIT]VLI : SCE : [M]ARIE : DE : 

ELEYNESTOWE. 



68 MONASTIC SEALS 

S. Helena (Fbvia Julia) was the mother of the Great Constantine. In 
depicting her with the long Cross, allusion is made to the l^nd which 
attributes to her the finding of the Cross actually employed at the Crucifixion. 
Owing to the r^ettable state of the impression we are thrust largely 
upon conjecture in r^;ard to the skill involved in the contrivance of 
the original seaL The scheme is varied and rich, and shews in the 
designing the exercise of considerable fervour and beauty with an effect 
which is also perceptible. Not necessarily do these conditions imply 
the exercise of equi^ent skill, but apparently the engraving— of the chief 
part at least — reached a high standard. There is much that suggests, and 
nothing that repudiates clever treatment. The litde figures at the base are 
extremelv ascetic in appearance. 

A detached tower which stands N.W. of the Church is all that now 
remains of the domestic buildings of the ** Abbey of Blessed Mary of 
Elstowe.** 



ELY, Benedictine Priory of SB. Mary, Peter, and Etheldreda, 

CO. Cambridge. 

An illustrious house of great antiquity, sanctity and wealth 
* 1^ * E of which the famous Cathedral, rising majestically above the 
"^* fens of the shire, is a glorious memory. The genesis of 

Sbal c. ^^^ foundation whose departed grandeur is thus so superbly 

commemorated, is vested with considerable interest and 
romance. It was erected for nuns by S. Etheldreda (the daughter of 
Anna, who from a.d. 635 Justly ruled J^t Anglia, and Heresi^tha, a sister 
of the renowned S. Hilda;, who became the first Abbess. At an early age 
Etheldreda had expressed a great desire for a religious life. Hence it was 
unwillingly she, when still a child, became espoused to Tonberht, a nobleman 
of East Anglia. Preserving her maidenhood to the last, Tonberht*s death 
released her from a state she disliked. Her widowhood was being spent in 
retreat, when as a matter of political expediency she was again coerced into 
unwilling wedlock with Ecgfrid, son of Oswiu of Northumbria, but to her 
death she victoriouslv guarded her virginity. After Ecgfrid came to the 
throne, convinced that his spouse was resolved to die a maiden he 
unwillingly consented to her abandoning the court for a religious house at 
Coldingham of which S. Ebba, the King's aunt, was Abbess. There she 
was professed by S. Wilfrid. Repenting of his acquiescence in her departure, 
Ecgfrid strived to induce the return of his consort. But vainly. Infuriated 
at length by her persistent refusal, he resolved to enforce it, and Etheldreda, 



ELY PRIORY 69 

with the island of Ely (the '* morning gift *' of her first husband) in mind, 

sought freedom in flight. With two attendant virgins she succeeded in 

reaching here without arrest notwithstanding that the King was in close 

pursuit Here she stayed without further molestation, and c. a.d. 673 

commenced the erection of a conventual establishment, in honour of the 

B. Virgin, upon which she settled the whole of the island, the cost 

of which was mainly borne by her brother Adulfus, King of East Anglia, 

and of which, as already stated, she became Abbess. The life of the 

Saint was characterized by an austerity and piety so great as to prepossess 

the choice of a like career by persons of equal and noble rank who placed 

themselves beneath her control. During her rule, her eldest sister Sexburga, 

widow of K.- Erconbert of Kent; Ermenilda, daughter of Sexburga and 

dowager Q. of Mercia ; and Werburga, daughter of Q. Ermenhilda, were 

all within the Abbey. Sexburga succeeded Etheldreda in the Abbacy, and 

was in turn followed by Ermenilda and Werburga. For almost two 

centuries, as originally constituted, the house flourished and acquired great 

repute for sanctity, in a.d. 870 it was destroved by the Danes. A century 

later it was restored by Ethelwold, Bishop or Winchester, for Benedictine 

monks at the instance of K. Edgar who assigned the island to them. The 

first Abbot was Brithnoth, Prior of Winchester, who was considered to have 

been assassinated by Elfrida, Edgar's queen. Archbishop Stigand, a.d. i 065, 

assumed authority over the house and bestowed the Abbacy upon 

Thurstan, from whose death a.d. 1072 until the appointment of Richard, a 

renowned scholar of the Norman Abbey of Bee (the last Abbot), the office 

was regularly filled. Over Ely Abbey the Bishops of Lincoln had always 

exercised episcopal jurisdiction and when Richard was elected Bishop 

Robert urged his prerogative of investiture. Such compliance was 

nauseous to the elect and he objected. Doggedly he refused to yield whilst 

the Bishop as resolutely insisted. At length Hen. I., annoyed at the 

Abbot's contumacy, demanded his crozier and bereaved him. Richard 

argued his cause before Pope Paschal who decreed his restoration and upon 

his return to England he propitiated the King. Enjoying thenceforward his 

favour he presssed Henry to raise Ely to a bishopric. Ultimately the 

consent of the Pope was obtained, and the Abbatial lands were divided 

between the episcopate and the monastery. For more than four hundred 

years afterwards, the monks remained in their island home governed by 

a Prior instead of an Abbot 

We are particularly fortunate in being able to reproduce the seal of 
the Chapter (a dual example) from a remarkabhr fine and almost perfect 
impression. Obversely, the design comprises a facade of three arches (each 
cusped upon the inside, the centra with greater daboration) supported by 
four pillars (the two inner fluted, all with capitals), surmounted by a 



70 MONASTIC SEALS 

structure resembling a Githedral and wnamented at the sides with tabemade 
work, raised upon an arcade of narrow trefoiled arches. In the central 
niche stands at full-length S. Etheldreda, foundress and first Abbess, attired 
as an Abbess and crowned as Queen of Northumbria, holding in one hand a 
pastoral staff, and in the other an open book. That on the left is occupied 
by a representation of her first husband, Tonberht, depicted as a youth 
with a falcon rising from his wrist by the jesse ; that on the right by 
another, of her second husband, JL Ecgfrid, crowned and with sceptre 
in the right hand. Over the canopy are two angels descending from 
heaven, each swinging a censer. 

: SIGILLVM : CAPITVU : ECCLIE : SCE : ETHELDREDE 

DE ELY. 
The reverse also exhibits a facade of three niches, which 
PL^ * E closely resembles in its architecture and elaboration that on 
11^* the oDverse, but there are diflerences in the tabemade work 

Seal 6. ^^ ^^ sides. The central niche is here occupied by die full- 
length figure of S. Peter (who was also a patron), nimbussed, 
with keys and book, and the others by that of Bishop Ethdwold (die 
restorer at the instance of K. Edgar), vested and mitred as a prelate, and 
the B. Virgin (the chief patron) crowned, and with sceptre and book. 
Under the platform upon which the main scheme rests and within an 
arch with arcaded sides, is a boat with several persons in it riding on waves. 
This boat appears in a doubtful sense. It may only indicate the 
topognmhical peculiarity of Ely, illustrate a well-known scriptural incident, 
or the flight ot S. Etheldreda ; or again, it might have been introduced in a 
metaphorical sense to represent the Chiurh under one of its tides. After 
the batde of Hastings, Archbishop Stigand, with many notable ecclesiastics, 
the Earl of Leicester and other nobles, together with a confederacy 
numbering a thousand, fled hither, garrisoned Ely and with Hereward the 
Wake heki it for several years against the Conqueror; possibly it was 
intended^o recall this histoncjncident 

: S* SCI : PETRI : ET SCE : ETHELDRIDE : VIRGINIS : ET 

REGINE. 
When impressions from the obverse and reverse were united, on the edge 
appeared the following rhyming distich : — 
PETRVS : ETELDREDA : MOLLIS : SVB : TEGMINE : CERE : 

ELY : SECRETA : CELARE : SIMVL : STATVERE : 
Of its order, and any period the capitular example immediately described 
was a consummate one. Conceived in all the intensity of Gothic 
consciousness, it was magnificendy designed and most exquisitely wrought 
Viewed from the highest standpoint of art, it is surpassed by the 
obverse of the seal of Merton and the seal of Heyninges Priories, the 



ELY PRIORY 71 

devotional sensibility of both of which it also lacked. Those instances, 
however, are superlative ; were they absent, this seal of Ely of itself 
would loudly acclaim the capacity of mediaeval seal art for very lofty 
expression and bear to the truth of that voice the strongest and most 
convincing testimony. Outside the realm of seals, excepting architecture, 
it would be difficult if not impossible to adduce a work of human 
contrivance of its century in which its beauty was exceeded. Its 
Greater enjoyed in a remarkable degree the artistic temperament and 
possessed m the same measure, not only the skill to convey* his ideas 
ably through the channel of his art, but the patience and mdustry to 
express them with scrupulous precision. If we scan the architectural 
detail alone, we cannot be but forcibly struck with the grandeur and 
extraordinary minuteness in which it is presented — if comparatively, we 
find it in seal art unsurpassed, if not unpandleled. It is, altogether, true to 
scale and most omatdy elaborated. The grace and delicacy of Gothic 
architecture is sometimes subordinated in the view by reason of its 
proportions. In the reductions here we have a telling revelation that 
structures of this character are instinct and alive with both. The six 
figures vary somewhat in merit. As regards the featiu-es, in most instances 
we have to deplore impressional defects which obviate a complete 
appreciation. Those of K. Ecgfiid — the figure on the left-hand ot the 
obverse — ^however, are quite custinct. In this case they are fauldessly 
delineated, and if it is too much for us to say their execution characterized 
that of the remaining figures, at least they prove the artist's aptitude in this 
direction. The pose of all, in six-fold variation since no two agree, is 
natural and altogether admirable whilst the costume, in style and depiction 
varying to the same extent, is presented in a fashion at once artistic and 
handsome. Nor can less than diis be said of the litdc censing angels, nor 
than that as a whole the seal is a thing of real beauty. The falcon rising 
from the wrist of S. Ethddreda's first husband curiously recalls a popular 
pursuit of our ancestors, and the litde boat enlightens us somewhat as to 
the style of their water craft. 

The Priory contributes to our selected group another example 
PLATE Qf ^13 art, namely, the seal ad causas^ an illustration of which 
^LVII. ij fiirnished by a chipped but fine impression. It di^lays 
Seal 93. S. Ethddreda, crowned as Queen, holding; a pastoral staflr and 

book, similarly as on the obverse of the Chapter seal, and 
standing on a sculptured corbel. 
[+ SICqirLLVlM : PRIORIS : ET : CONVENTVS : ELYENSIVM : 

AD : CAVS[AS]. 
This instance, archaic in type, aflfords a bold and strenuous one, one 



72 MONASTIC SEALS 

in which the effect of a larger ratio than the actual is secured. With 
that of the capitular, the art of the ad causus seal may not be compared 
but the figure was obviously properly modelled, ordered, and apparrelled. 
The features are too obscured to allow of examination, but the regulation 
of the draping displays skilled manipulation. Of its style, the seal of 
Lanercost Priory may perhaps be adduced as a superior example, but 
this is unquestionably artistic. 

Hen. VIII. granted a charter for erecting the Cathedral Church of 
the monastery into the Cathedral Church of the Holy Trinity. He 
bestowed upon it a portion of the monastic revenues and converted the 
last Prior, an unworthy ecclesiastic, into the first Dean of the new 
foundation. The Cathedral was not completed until the sixteenth century. 
It was dedicated to SS. Marv, Peter, and Ethddreda, a.d. 1252. Now 
the site of the Priory is occupied by the Bishop's Palace and houses of the 
prebendaries. 



EVESHAM, Benedictine Abbey of SS. Mary and Ecgwine, 

CO. Worcester. 

A MAJESTIC house which held exalted rank and rivalled in 
^*^ * *• influence the episcopate of Worcester, charmingly situated in 
VIII. ^^ lovely vale of Avon. It posseaoed an immense estate 

Seal i c. (including at one time no less it is supposed than twenty-two 

towns), rich prerc^tives, a sumptuous Church (containing 
one hundred and sixty-four gilt pillars and sixteen altars), and a stately 
pile of domestic builmngs. The head of the house — in which the town 
originated — sat as A spiritual baron in Parliament. Near the Abbey, in 
A.D. 1265, was foi^ht one of the most noteworthy and determined battles 
recorded in English history — ^the decisive struggle between Simon de 
Montfort, the great Earl of Leicester, who led the insurfi[ent barons and 
was slain, and the forces of Hen. III. Quartered at the time in the 
Abbey) under Prince Edward, afterwards Ed. L Within its walls the 
fugitives of the field were massacred, and the Earls of Leicester and 
Lancaster with others interred. In the legendary circumstance which 
incited the foundation of the Abbey the etymology of Evesham is 
curiously implicated. Ecgwine, a prince of royal blood, had succeeded 
A.D. 692 to the see of Worcester, but being dispossessed by the Pope he 
retired hither. In his service was a swineherd named Eoves, to whom the 
B. Virgin one day appeared. He reported the vision to the Bishop, who at 
once made for the spot, when the B. Virgin re-appeared and commanded 



EVESHAM ABBEY 73 

Ec^[wine to erect a Benedictine monastery on a spot she indicated. Later, 
it was popularly supposed that the place derived its name of '^Eoves- 
holme,*' or ^^Eovesham/' from that of the swineherd, but the tide is 
learnedly held to denote a flat dwelling-place by a riverside. Ecgwine 
procured a gift of the land from Ethelred of Mercia, and a.d. 702 began, 
as directed in the vision, the erection of the house, in honour of the 
B. Virgin, of which he became the first Abbot. Kenred of Mercia and 
Ofia of East Anglia co-operated in granting him sixty-five manses lying on 
both sides of the river and, accompanied by both (they to lay down their 
crowns and embrace monasticism), in a.d. 709 he journeyed to Rome and 
obtsuned from Pope Constantine special privileges for his foundation. It was 
consecrated a.d. 712. Two years after, Ecgwine endowed it by charter with 
all the property he had received on account of it, which then amounted to 
one hundred and twenty manses. In time the Abbey attained great 
repute as a school of learning. It was ravaged by the Danes, but restored 
diuing the reign of King Athdstan by Bishop Kinewold who introduced 
seculars, afterwards replaced by monks by Oswald, who succeeded Dunstan 
(the successor of Kinewold) in the bishopric of Worcester, a.d. 961. 
In the time of Aldulf, Oswald's successor, the Abbey was made 
subject to the See. From the episcopate of Wulfstan, who followed 
Aldulf, the commencement of the Abbey's greatness dates. The 
Confessor appointed to the Abbacy Egilwin, who increased the number of 
monks; he subsequendy became a favourite with both Harold and the 
Conqueror, by whom he was entrusted with important offices. Soon after 
the donquest, Walter, the Abbot, commenced the erection of a new Church 
in the dedication of which S. Ecgwine was joined. Rufus sent twelve of the 
monks to Denmark to establish a Priory there. The use of mitre, gloves, 
ring and other insignia was granted the Abbot by Pope Clement III. At 
a diocesan synod we find him urging his claim to wear a mitre 
and sit next to the prelate. During the episcopate of Walter Cantilupe 
(a.d. 1 237-1 266) the monks regained then* independence which they had 
by degrees asserted. Whilst a pestilence raged in the middle of the 
fourteenth century the Abbey became almost depopulated. The monastery 
of Alcester was annexed in the reign of Ed. IV. 

The corporate seal of the house was a dual one. As our illustration, 
which is taken from a very good impression, reveals, its design was highly 
complicated and not altogether coherent. The obverse relates the legend 
which incited the foundation. Rising from the base and past the centre is 
a wide scroll, with a lancet-shaped cusp at the top and curves at the 
sides, forming a trefoiled configuration in which is seen the swineherd 
stancUng, with face to the right and feet to the left, between two oak trees, 
leaning on a staff and tending a sow, which suckles a pig. A similar 



74 MONASTIC SEALS 

animal is visible on the other side. Upon the scroll is inscribed the 
following old English rhjrme : — 

ifiBOVIS • HIR • WONEDB * ANT • w[aS * SWON "] 
[for] * PI * MBN * CLBPST * f'lS * BOVI8HOM. 

which nuy be interpreted: : — 

Eoret here wended with his swine 
Egwin named thb Eovishom. 

Above the trefoil appears a representation of the Abbey Church, here 
depicted with tall spire or centnd tower (each gable having a cross finial)^ 
with a cinquefoil perhaps intended for the sun over the roof-line, on the 
right hand. Immediately below the building is the legend : — 

ECCB LOC' QVi BLBOI 

L€.j Ecce locum quern elegi — ** Behold the place which I have chosen/* On 
either side of the field upon a level with the Church are two niches, one 
plain, the other trefoiled. Those on the left contain a full-length 
representation of the B. Virgin (crowned, carrying a long cross and 
attended by two figures — a man attired in a cloak and woman with a book) 
appearing to S. Ecgwine, who, in the first of the dexter arches, kneels before 
her and to whom the words last quoted are addressed. In the trefoiled 
arch on the right sad under a tree me Virgin is seated with her feet resting 
upon a phtform, appearing in a vision to die raaoehetd who looks vp 
from below. Over the head of S. Ecgwine is z fleur-de-lis^ over that of the 
Virgin a cinquefoil, and on either side of the trefoil shape a tree. _ 

SIGILLVM • SANCTE • MARIFE • ET SANTI • ECGWINI • EPI • 

E]OVESHAMENSIS • MONASTER[II •] 

Thb reverse conveys in brief the erection, dedication, and 
^'^^ * ^ original endowment of the Abbey. If anything, the design is 
VIII. more complicated than the preceding. It presents at the apex 

Sbal 1 6. ^^ ^^ 1^^ ^i^d ^i^^> ^ distinct Gothic niche with cusped 

arch in which is enthroned the chief patroness, with the Holy 
Child on the left knee. On the right S. Ecgwine, vested and mitred as a 
Bishop, kneels towards and presents her with a model of the Church, here 
represented with a tall spire in the centre and a tower or turret at each 
side, a cross finial on both, and a flag on the right. On the left and right 
hand sides of the figures is an oak tree, allusive of acorns frx>m which 
the swine derived sustenance ; over the Church a sixfoiled rose ; on the 
sinister side two fleurs^-de^Bs^ and on the right, one. This constitutes the 
first part of the picture which is divided from the second by a row of 
pointed and trefoiled arches, two large in size and crocketted with oak 
leaves. On the left, seated, are the three royal patrons, Kenred of Mercia, 
Ofia of East AnglUi ^nd Edielred of Mercia, the first with a falcon on his 
wrist, the second supporting a sceptre fleury, the third inclining to the 



FAVERSHAM ABBEY 75 

right, and presenting a charter, surmounted by a fleur-de-'Rs^ inscribed : — 

DAMVS — REGIE LIBER — ^TATI, 

and authenticated (somewhat anomalously, but in curious affinity with the 
subject of this work) by a large oval seal bearing the arms or England, 
three lions passant guardant, to Bishop Ecgwine, nutred, who kneels on the 
right to receive it. The latter is attended by his chaplain, who raises one 
hand and holds a book in the other. 
DICTirS •] ECGWI[NI • DANT •] REGE[S • MVNERA • TRINI J 
[OMNIBVS • VNDE • PI]E • NITET • AVLA • SACRATA • MARIE. 
The virtues of tins unusually graphic seal obviously incline towards 
die curious and quaint rtther than to the artistic But what it loses 
artistically upon comparison, is more than recompensed by its extraordinary 
interest In this regard we should find a difficulty in advancing an 
instance which excelled it. Of the strict canons of art the contriver was 
manifesdy independent, and he suffered from lack of skill. Hb talents 
were literary rather than artistic. He set out to narrate a long story 
within a very meagre space and succeeded, incidentally achieving a not 
inharmonious, if complicated, disposition he can scarce be said to have 
aimed at Though crude the work is not alu^ther lacking in merit. 
The treatment of the Virgin and Child upon the reverse lu» much to 
commend it All that now remsuns of this one glorious pile is an arch or 
gateway lying on the north side of the existing Churchyard, and a few 
inconsequent fragments. In the end the B. Virgin^s mission to S. Ecgwine 
proved a vain one. 



FAVERSHAM, Benedictine Abbey of S. Saviour, 

CO. Kent. 

A HOUSB of some early celebrity, once vested with many 
PI^^^ privileges and a considerable estate which became mucn 
^* reduced. It stood not far away from the Church of the 

Sbal 21. P^sl^ which the monks are said to have employed upon the 

greater festivals. The main portions of the structure were 
demolished soon after the suppression. In the earlv years of the 
nineteenth century, ruins of two gatehouses were to be seen and in 
a farm-house paits of the chapel and porter^s lod£;e identified. Now 
its remains comprise but a few of the outer walls* The Abbey was 
founded by K. Stephen and his consort Maud, who (a.d. i 147) munificentiy 
endowed it with the manor of Faversham and other property. Of the 
Cluniac order Henry of Blois, Bishop of Winchester and brother of the 



76 MONASTIC SEALS 

King, was an especial patron and probably in deference to him the new 
foundation was assigned it, monks being drawn from Bermondsey Priory to 
occupy the Abbey. In the erection the Queen eicpressed partiadar interest, 
and often personally superintended the building operations. A relic of the 
Holy Cross, sent him oy Godfrey de Bouillon, was placed by the King in 
the Church where both he and Maud, as weU as her son Eustace, Earl 
ot Boulogne, and other renowned persons, were interred. Hen. 11. granted 
an annual fair of eight days which commenced on the feast of S. Peter 
ad Vincula. Isabel, sister of Hen. III., came here with a large suite as 
she passed to the continent to become the spouse of the Emperor Frederick. 
Edward I. granted free warren within the manor ; Hen. IV. a fishery. 
In the reign of Ed. I. the Benedictine rule was instituted. At that 
time the Abbey had not only reached a condition of extreme poverty 
but become heavily involved. So the King placed its estate during 
his pleasure in the hands of trustees, with authori^ to maintain tiie 
monks and minister their income until they were freed from debt. The 
Abbot sat in thirteen Parliaments during this, and in the reign of Ed. II., 
but not after the eighteenth year of the latter. Upon the death of each 
Abbot, the King (as founder) claimed his ring, drinking vessel, palfrey, 
and kennel of hounds in lieu of other henot. The poverty of the 
house necessitated the strict enforcement of certain rights (namely, 
compensation for swine pasturage, tolls on goods sold in the market and 
beer brewed) upon the inhabitants of the town, which engendered 
between them and the monks relations not altogether to be defined 
as amicable. 

We have chosen for reproduction here, first, the corporate seal of 
the foundation. It was composed of two parts and the second example 
of its class to be employed. Although a part of the impression illustrated 
is missing from the top and its detail suffers a little from want of clearness, 
it is nevertheless a fine one. The obverse displays, between two narrow 
buttresses (each with three arcaded storeys and supported by brackets) three 
pointed arches (carved and trefoiled upon the inside and crocketted without), 
those on the right and left separated from the central, which is the largest, 
by sculptured piers. Against a diapered field, the central arcade contains a 
representation of Our Lord (S. Saviour), nimbussed and enthroned, who 
raises the right hand in blessing; and holds in the left a book of the Gospels. 
In the niche upon the sinister side S. Peter, with keys and book, is enthroned 
and in that on the dexter S. Paul, with sword and book, is disposed in 
correspondence. Over the top of the chief a star and crescent appeared, 
and in the base, placed against an architectural terrace, two panels which 
contained two crowned heads probably designed for K. Stephen and his 
queen, Maud. 



FAVERSHAM ABBEY 77 

[S* qOMMVNE : MONASTERII : SCl : SALVATORIS : DE : 

FFAVER 

The reverse primarily conveys an elevation, in part section, of 
^Y^^*^ a more or less conventional representation of the Abbey 
^'" Churchy shewn with central and two side towers. Above the 

Seal 22. ^"^^^t between the spires, two angels are seen descending from 

Heaven and swin^ng censers. In chief, the sectioned parts 
of the structure contain the Transfiguration. Immediately beneath the 
central tower, above the roof-line, is a trefbiled arch and on either side, 
below the roof, another similar in style ; the three contain respectively, Our 
Lord standing upon a mount and Moses and Elias both at full lengui. A 
quatrefoil and sixfoil in each of the side towers, disposed one above the 
other at the top and base, exhaust the sectioned detail. These contain the 
heads of the emblems of the four Evangelists ; on the left, those of 
SS. John and Matthew (eagle and lion) ; on the right, those of SS. Matthew 
and Luke (angel and calf). Below* the building are seen three crouching 
figures described by Dr. Birch as: — ^Judas, Arius, and Julian the 
Apostate. (?) 

iOTRANSFIGVRATVR : VELUT : ET : SOL : 

CLARIFICATUR. 
A magnificent example is that proffered by the seal described. Without 
question it is a striking work of art and, since exhaustive research has 
railed to reveal the Transfiguration elsewhere upon a seal, it is probably 
unique also. Both schemes were well conceivea. The harmony of their 
arrangement is perfect and their effect is of a richness which does not in the 
least satitate or detract, but characterizes. Of the art with which we are 
concerned, the designers of the seals of Merton and Heyninges Priories 
were superlatively masters. They idealized it and in it stand out as 
conspicuously as Fra Angelico and Raphael do in painting. Next to them — 
although the distance which intervened was great — fbflowed a wider class 
of artist, whose work (the style of which is well manifested in our plates) 
though excellent, never attained ideal heights. In this category, capable of 
much sub-division, the artist responsible for the seal under examination is 
entitled to a place. A precise estimate of his capacity for facial drawing is 
largely barred by the state of the impression. In the features of Christ 
there is an eviaent crudity, but those of S. Peter to an extent belie a 
lack of skill in this direction. But in the portrayal of the figure and 
depiction of drapery his ability was unquestioned — his graver was as 
unerring as his eye. Nor can less be said of his capacity for architectural 
drawing ; abundant testimony to this is supplied by the chastely-worked 
arcade of the obverse and the rich and precise detail of the reverse. 
The seal was a creation of a Gothic noon-day. 



78 MONASTIC SEALS 

The second example contributed by Faversham Abbey to our 
* ^-^^^ series is taken from an impression, chipped on the right hand 
XLVI. gjjg b^^ otherwise well preserved, of Ae seal of Peter who 
Seal 92. ^^ Abbot iUD. 1244-66. It is rendered curious by the 

sinking of two quatrefoil panels on each side of the field, 
much more deeply than the rest of the work — a very unusual feature. 
The scheme presents the Abbot, with staff and book, standing upon a 
pedestal against a field diapered lozengy, whilst in each of die panek 
referred to occurs the head of a saint 

*SIGILL ABBATIS : DE : FAVERSHAM. 

A commendable specimen only, which follows the earlier style of its order. 
The Abbot's vestments are well regulated and drawn, but the figure 
ofiTends considerably agaunst truthful modelling, whilst the features exhibit 
but minor skill in their chiselling. One of the four heads only can be said 
to be at all lucid. In its portrayal some aptitude is evident. Superior 
examples of this class will be found amongst the Gmterbury group. 
When Convocation met in a.d. 1529, to express its views concerning the 
validity of the King's marriage widi Queen Githarine, the Abbot voted, 
by proxy, that *^to marry the wife known by the brother departing 
without issue was prohibited by the Divine law and indispensable by 
the Pope." When his Abbey was threatened he vainly wrote a letter of 
remonstrance to Cromwell, but his surrender was enforced. 



FLIXTON, Augustinian Priory of SB. Mary and Catharine, 

CO. Suffolk. 

A SMALL house erected for religious women which never 
X^^j attained to a position of any importance or exercised any 

XVII. particular influence. It stood one mile south of the parish 

Seal 33. Church, the rectory of which it obtained by exchange in the 

fourteenth century. Founded c. a.d. 1258 by Margery, 
Baroness Creyk, who limited the number of nuns to eighteen besides a 
Prioress. A century later Bishop Bateman framed the statutes under 
which it was subsequendy governed. Among those who increased its 
possessions were Henry de Bosco a.d. 1268, Roger FitzPeter FitzOsbert 
and his wife Sarah a.d. 1285, Jol^n* Bishop of Norwich, a.d. 1321, 
Bishop Bateman a.d. 1350, and Bishop Lyhert a.d. 1472. The house 
was dissolved a.d. 1528 by the Bull of Clement VII. Our illustration of 
the Priory seal — ^which probably originated about the time of the 
foundation — ^is served by a very imperfect impression. Its form was 



GLASTONBURY ABBEY 79 

that of a lozenge having four semi-circular lobes, and its design 
comprised the Crucifixion between SS. Mary and John. In the four lobes 
were placed respectively the emblems of the Evangelists, under a round 
arch in the base an ^gnus Dei looking up to the Cross and in the field the 
sun and moon depicted with faces. The arms of the Abbey displayed a 
S. Catharine's wheel with a Calvary crossprojecting from it in chief. 

PITVU MONIALIV DE FUXT 

The peculiar but graceful configuration of this little instance possibly marks 
it as unique, and its subject, only occasionally encountered in seal art, as rare. 
The design is most effective, the conditions of shape being cleverly met. 
Its execution exhibits considerable care and adroitness, and quite an artistic 
result was achieved. Near an ancient farm house, and encircled by a moat, 
some fragments of die institution yet remain. 



GLASTONBURY, Benedictine Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. Somerset. 

Thb most renowned, saintly and magnificent of all our 
*^*j^*^ destroyed conventual establishments — the realization of 
^^* S. Dunstan^s dream. Doubtless the most ancient Christian 

Seal 29. setdement, afterwards it became the grandest seat of monasticism 

in England. To other houses it served as a model. It was 
situated in one of the most beautiful and romantic spots, hallowed by 
exquisite l^end, to be found in the kingdom — ^the *^ island vaUey of 
Avilion *' where, according to tradition, Arthur ** the blameless King " was 
brought and died. The grandeur of die ruins of its Churches still conveys 
some idea of its ancient glory. In value and authority it surpassed every 
house in England, save Westminster. The Abbot lived in a state of almost 
regal splendour (with an income of nearly ^^40,000 per annum), enjoyed 
countless privileges and immunities, held the tide of lord, and sat in 
Parliament To the sanctity of the house William of Malmesbiuy pays a 
beautiful tribute. Tradition relates that Joseph of Arithmathea with eleven 
followers arrived here c. a.d. 60 and built a Church in honour of the 
B. Virgin, supposed to have continued until the middle of the second 
century, when a society of anchorites settled near the spot and flourished 
until the fifth. One of the numerous 8. Patricks (whether the ^* Apostle 
of the Irish '* or not is questionable, though in mediaeval times S. Patrick 
of Glastonbury was identified with him) was born in the neighbourhood. 
When ninety years of age he retired to his native place, assumed control 
of the anchorites, and made them confirm to a strict monastic rule. About 



8o MONASTIC SEALS 

fifty years after his death (c. a.d. 546), fi^m the "Rosy Vale" the "Apostle 
of the Welsh/' the great S. David, reached here and it is said rebuilt the 
Church. Thus far tradition. In a.d. 601 the Damnonian King Gwrgan 
granted the monastery which then stood a charter. King Kentwine 
endowed it also, and in a.d. 708 Ina, King of Wessex (considered by 
some to have been the actual foiinder), showered upon it the ftillest favour. 
He rebuilt the house upon more dignified lines, gave it valuable lands with 
unique privileges, and personally obtained of^the Pope a Bull which 
afiforded it his protection. Not long after it was ravaged by the Danes but 
speedily restored. Two centimes later, through the influence of 
S. Dunstan, the chief founder of English monasticism, its character was 
changed and its consequence and proportions widely enlarged. S. Dunstan 
was born near the Abbey, received his education there, and became its 
most renowned pupil. He passed thence to the famous monastery of 
Fleury where he became a Benedictine, and upon his appointment to the 
Abbacy of Glastonbury introduced here the ride he had embraced. His 
affection for the Abbey was intense. It is recorded that in his -early years 
he saw it in a vision complete and majestic, and to make it both he was 
resolved. He obtained permission to draw upon the royal resources, 
began the work of rebuilding on a grand scale and procured from 
K. Edmund large estates and privileges in its behalf. When at the height 
of his power, as Archbishop of Canterbury and Papal legate leading the 
ecclesiastical and political afilairs of the state, he had it still in mind and 
obtained for it even greater riches and privileges. To its greatness and 
sanctity the attention of all Christendoiu was now drawn. Pilgrims made 
it their objective and burial within its precincts was much coveted. The 
Conqueror perfidiously bereft it of many lands, some of which he 
afterwards restored. The greater portion of the Abbey, with the Church, 
was destroyed by fire a.d. 1184, whereupon Hen. II. decreed their 
re-erection in the fullest magnificence. In his reign, a cofilin reputed to be 
Arthur*s was discovered and venerated as such. Savaric, Bishop of Bath and 
Wells, A.D. 1 192-1205 (see Bath p. 31), translated his seat hither and 
assumed the tide of Bishop of Glastonbury, but the Abbey did not long 
retain the episcopd chair. Until his time, the Abbot enjoyed precedence of 
aU kindred ecclesiastics in England, but Pope Adrian IV. (Nicholas 
Brakespere) transferred that dignity to S. Albans, where he had been 
educat^. The rebuilding was not entirely completed until about the 
reign of Ed. III. From thence it continued to flourish in all its 
greatness until the Dissolution, when its sanctity, it is historically 
proven, was never more profound or its reputation more spodess. The 
brutal murder of its venerable Abbot — ^a scholar, a gendeman and a saint, 
who innocent of any charge was treated and hung as a malefiictor — was 



^ 



GLASTONBURY ABBEY 8i 

one of the darkest and most unpardonable crimes the turmoS of the 
Reformation evoked. 

An impression, somewhat worn and a litde chipped but upon the 
whole fine, enables us to afibrd an excellent view or the Abbey seal, 
which was of two parts. The design of the obverse comprehends 
an architectural facade of three niches, each minutely carved and 
elaborated and surmounted by a square tower with spire, pinnades, 
and crockets, supported by four pillars rising from a platform. In the 
central, which is the larger, stands the B. Virgin, crowned, holding in her 
nfi;ht hand a branch of the Holy Thorn, in her left the Divine Infant 
lifting His right hand in benediction. That on the dexter side contains a 
representation of S. Mar]garet, also crowned and standing, piercing with 
a long Cross the head of a dragon which lies at her feet ; that on the 
sinister S. Githarine, also crowned and standing, with a sword in her right 
hand, a wheel in the left. A plinth below the facade indicates by name the 
Saints intended. On each side, in the field, occurs a JUur-'de^ (svmbolic 
of the Viigin's purity) and beneath the plindi a series of three arches, the 
central of which contains the Abbey Church and those at the sides each a 
r^uardant bird. The B. Virgin was the chief and original patron of the 
Church. The thorn branch carried by her draws attention to a most 
interesting local tradition. Upon ^* Weary-all-Hill *' (so-called, legend 
states, beciuse he and his companions weary from thdr journey sat there, 
and rested) south-west of the town, S. Joseph struck his staflF, a hawthorn 
sticky into the ground, whereupon it took root and afterwards constantly 
blossomed '*at Christmas mindful of Our Lord.*' This famous thorn 
had two trunks, one of which was destroyed as superstitious, temp. 
Elizabeth, the other during the Rebellion. It has now quite vanished 
from its site, but there are trees originally derived from the old stock still 
thriving in many local gardens. Curiously enough, there is no doubt 
that these thorns do blossom about Christmas Day. The original was 
for a long time held sacred and was the centre of countless pilgrimages. 
Bristol merchants dried and exported the flowers which were considered 
miraculous. On one occasion, it is recorded, instead of bloomine on the 
25th December it flowered on the 5th January, a circumstance held by the 
people to prove the latter the true Christmas Day. They refusra to 
celebrate it on the earlier, but with various villages around observed it upon 
the latter'date. SS. Catharine and Margaret (whose legends in illustration 
of their emblems will be found in our Introduction (p. 25) were probably 
dedicatories of altars within the Churches of which there were two— 
S. Mary's (now called S. Joseph's) and SS. Peter and Paul's. V^ether 
the binis appear in a symbolic or material sense is uncertain. If the 
former, the more probable, they may convey the guardianship of the 

G 



82 MONASTIC SEALS 

Church by the Holy Spirit, if the latter they possibly allude to the Holy 
Thorn. _ 

TESTIS : ADEST : ISTI : SCRIP[TO : GEN]ETRIX : PIA : XPI 

GLASTONIE. 

The scheme of the reverse also exhibits, between two roses 
* ^-^* ^ occupying the same position in the field as the fleurs-de-lis upon 
^^* the obverse, an architectural facade which, although less 

Seal id. elaborated, responds in essentials to that of the latter. 

Here appears in the chief niche, standing, S. Dunstan, vested 
for mass and mitred, with the right hand raised in blessing, the left 
supporting a staff, and in the dexter and sinister SS« Benignus and Patrick 
respectively, both similarly attired, also blessing with one hand and with a 
staff in the other. The names of all these are inscribed on a plinth below, 
under which, as on the obverse, is a series of arches. The central 
arch is occupied by the representation of a humorous incident which, 
according to the " Golden Legend,** first printed by Caxton, occurred here 
— S. Dunstan with a pair of red-hot tongs taking the devil by the nose 1 
The subject depicted under the arch upon the left is uncertain ; it is 
presumably an incident in the life of S. Benignus. That upon the right 
contains three fishes nainant counternaiant in allusion to S. Patrick's 
famous sermon to the denizens of the deep. The association of this Saint 
with Glastonbury has been defined. S. Benignus was a protegi of his who 
followed him, it is said, in the Abbacy. S. Patrick in the course of his 
mission once lodged with one Sesgnen who had a sweet and gentle son. 
S. Patrick baptized him " Benignus ** (i.e. sweet). He became Bishop of 
Armagh, and retired here late in life. 

CONFIRMANT : HAS : RES[IN .?]SCRIPTI : PONTIFICES : 

TRES. 
It will be seen, the seal here described, although by no means the most 
exquisite of our examples, is one of intense beauty. The artist who 
called it into being realized to the uttermost the magnificence and glory of 
the house for whose use it was intended and, imbued with this perception, 
contrived that it should be a reflex of both — that those who viewed his 
work should say, without reference to the inscriptions, ^^ This is the seal of 
Glastonbury Abbev" — and successfully. Intrinsically, it is of great 
interest ; extrinsically this is excelled since it suggests so much of history 
and tradition. The schemes of both parts are not only artistic but 
highly so. The imagination which conceived them, had it so chosen, 
could have supplied us with more delightful legend than we should 
weary of the listening to. To its possessor art was not only akin to 
religion, a hand-maid of religion, but religion art and art religion. But to 
the height of his devotional ardour or his artistic ideals the sum of his 



GLOUCESTER FRIARY 83 

skill as a craftsman did not ascend, and in consequence what would 
otherwise have been a consummate work of art, of any time, descends to us 
at less than that The discrepancy is obvious, yet, contrasting the weak 
with the strong points of the seal a perception is formed that the artist did 
not quite treat himself with fairness, that had he so striven he could have 
reached a much higher degree of perfection than was achieved. But that is 
theory, the seal fact, and even from the actual a high capacity of execution 
must be conceded him. The finest feature of the seal is indubitably its 
architectural ornament, the exquisite nature of which is most emphasized 
upon the obverse. Here, above the canopies, such a wealth of delicate 
embellishment reigns as to preclude, almost, our following it in detail. In 
its depiction a signally poetic idea was expressed. The work immediately 
above the figures was traced so as to resemble the interlacing of tboms — in 
allusion, of course, to the Holy Thorn. Some kinship for the idea is found 
in the legend which relates of S. Hilda, that at Whitby she transmitted 
midtitudes of snakes into stones. Readers of Scott will recall reference to 
this in Marmion. Where our artist failed, was where his contemporaries in 
other arts failed — in the delineation of the figure. The curve which in the 
B. Virgin suggests weariness from supporting the burden of the Child, is 
over-studied and as far as we can see the pose of the saints in attendance 
have little to commend them, although that of the figures upon the reverse 
is much happier. As regards the features of five of the statuettes, lack of 
skill is there also evident, but those of S. Dunstan are creditable. Upon 
the whole, the draperies, which exhibit some variety, are gracefully drawn 
and the minor ornament at the base of the obverse (that of the reverse is 
past estimate) is weU treated. Though qualified in its execution, the seal is 
indisputably the grandest and most gorgeous of those of our series. 

The present remains of the pUe are very beautiful. Almost entirely 
efilaced is the great Church of SS. Peter and Paul, but of the exquisite chapel 
of S. Mary an important part yet stands. If we exclude the Abbot*s kitchen, 
of the domestic buildings there are scarcely any vestiges. 



GLOUCESTER, Dominican Friary, 

CO. Gloucester. 

Rkligious foundations were anciently so numerous in this city 
P^-^^** as to incite the mediaeval axiom — "As sure as God is in 
XII. Gloucester.*' Oliver Cromwell declared, pithily enough if not 

Seal 23. ^^y> ^^ contained "more Churches than Godliness!" The 

Friary under notice was situated near the yard of the casde 
which the Conqueror erected. Founded upon a small scale, ^. a.d. 1239 



84 MONASTIC SEALS 

by Hen. IIL, and Sir Stephen de Herneshull. King Heniy, it is saud, 
lored Gloucester better than London. He was crowned in its magnificent 
Cathedral (then the Abbey Church of SS. Peter and Paul), and doubtless 
the establishment of the Dominicans here was an expression of his 
attachment In the next reign the house underwent some expansion, and 
was further enlaiged ten^. Eid. III. A remarkably fine impression of the 
Friary seal forms die subject of our relative illustration. The design 
comprises an arcading of two niches (supported by slender columns), each 
with a pointed canopy pinnacled and crocketted. In that upon the right 
stands S. Paul, holding his sword by the blade ; in the next, another Saint 
with a long Cross — ^probably intended for S. Hdena. Under an arch at the 
base is the half-length figure of a friar in prayer. 

S' COMMVNE • FRM • PREDICATOR • GLOVCESTRIE. 
One of our minor examples which, chiefly in consequence of a restricted 
field, shares with the generality of them defective figure delineation^ 
Those depicted here, however, have much that speak for them. It is 
the litde Saint with the Cross which exhibits most crudity ; its companion, 
on the right, is far from badly drawn. Distinctly good is the architectural 
dement, and so is the friar at the base. Viewed as a whole, the design is 
quite artistic. The Friary Church still stands, but latgdy in a restored 
state. After the Reformation the domestic building was converted into a 
mansion, now used residentially and for workshops. 



GOLDCLIFFE, Benedictine Priory of S. Mary Magdalene, 

CO. Monmouth. 

A SMALL and alien foundation picturesquely located nearly 
^'-^^^ sbrty feet above the sea levd, upon the brow of a rocky cliff 
^* which overlooks the Bristol Channd. The peninsula which 

SxAL 1 9« embraced the site is about half-a-mile from the shore and three 

quarters-of-a-mile in circumference. It derives its name from 
a great bed of yellow mica at the base, which glitters like gold in the 
sunshine. The Priory was founded a.d. 1113 by Robert de Chandos. 
After he had libefally endowed it with various lands, at the request of 
Hen. I. he annexed it to the Abbey of Bee, Normandy, from whence came 
a Prior and twdve monks to occupy it. Upon the suppression of foreign 
institutions it was, with the consent of Hen. VL, attached to Tewkesbury 
Abbey. In a.d. 1445 ^^ monks were compelled by the Welsh to retire 
to the parent house, but afterwards returned. Later in this reign the 
Priory was transferred to Eton College, but Tewkesbury r^ained 



GRACE-DIEU PRIORY 85 

possession in the first of EcL IV., only to lose it again six years after, when 
it was recovered by the College which still possesses the estate. 

The Abbey seal was an armorial instance. It is to be regretted that 
the impression available is seriously imperfect, but what remains is 
remarkably lucid. From this we gaUier the design to have consisted of 
two richly canopied niches, one containing a full length representation of 
the B. Virgin with the Infant on the left arm, the omer that of a saindy 
figure, probably intended for the patroness, S. Mary Magdalene. Over 
the niches are a star and crescent, repeated at the base near the dividing 
shaft, and under a sculptured arch at the foot is a shield of arms, three 
lions passant guardant (England) for Hen. I. 

BEATE • MARIE • MAGDALENE • DE • 

GOLDCLI 

We are influenced in giving this seal illustration here by the peculiar nature 
of its architectural detail, and by the fine art which the ft'agment evinces. 
The studded supports and top of the central shaft of the canopy (a style 
we have not encountered elsewhere) eluddates the first, a merely superficial 
view betrays the second. The diaping is excellent, the blazoning of the 
armorial chaiges good, whilst the scheme, as a whole, is rich. In the 
injured impression we have to deplore the destruction of a not unimportant 
piece of art 

A doorway and a few walls are all that now speak of the Priory* 



GRACE-DIEU, Austin Priory of S. Mary and Holy Trinity, 

CO. Leicester. 

The home of the **Nuns of Belton," ddightftiUy situated 
^*^ * ^ near the centre of the forest of Charnwood in the manor of 
^^^* Grace-Dieu and parish of Belton, erected ien^. Hen. III. by 

Seal 24. Roesia de Verdon who installed Agnes de Gresley as the first 

Prioress. To it, Robert Kilwardby, Archbishop of Canterbury, 
A.D. 1277, assigned the parish Church. The house continued until the 
Dissolution, but few details are available of its public or inner life. 

' An impression, somewhat chipped and indistinct, serves our illustration 
of the Priory seal, which in point of date may be assigned to that of the 
fbimdation of the house. The design conveys, upon a platform, a trefoiled 
canopy upheld by slender pillars and surmounted by a Church-like 
structure with central tower and spire and gabled transepts, under which 
Our Lord sits upon a dais, raising His right hand in blessing and holding a 
book in the len. Below the pUtform, another trefoiled arch contains a 



86 MONASTIC SEALS 

representation of the foundress, kneeling and ofFering to her Divine 
Master above the charter of her foundation, to which is attached a pendent 
seal — a detail, like that afforded by the reverse of Evesham Abb^, most 
pertinent to our subject. 

SIGILL* CONVENT ALlV • DE • GRATIA 

A singular example in several respects, happy in design and, if the 
state of the impression allows us to form an opinion, skilfully presented. 
There can be no question that the drapery of the chief figures was 
exceedingly well depicted and the figure itself nicelv posed. The canopy 
seems somewhat over-weighted, and the little lady in the base is 
drawn with more quaintness than truth. Compared with the seal which 
accompanies it on the plate, a later instance as the architecture proves, its 
art was manifestly superior. . 

A large fragment of the Priory is still extant. Originally its precincts 
comprised two acres. The foundress was interred in the chapel which 
adjoined, and upon its destruction at the Dissolution her tomb was 
transferred to the parish Church of Belton where it is yet preserved. 



HAGHMOND, Austin Canons* Abbey of S. John the Evangelist, 

CO. Salop. 

Situated upon the incline of a wooded hill (which derived 
PLATE jtg name, Haut-mont^ the high mount, from its nature) 
^L historically famous as the place where, after the battle of 

SsAL 12. Shrewsbury, Lord Douglas, whose horse fell as he was 

pursued, was captured. The Priory was held in some repute 
and possessed a landed estate spread over the dioceses of Chester, Hereford, 
Worcester, Coventry and S. Asaph, with a cell at Raunton. The canons 
enjoyed the extraordinary privilege, conferred with others by Pope 
Alexander III. a.d. 1172, that in me event of a general interdict being 
proclaimed they might, notwithstanding, perform the Divine ofiice with 
closed doors. The rriory was founded a.d. ii 10 by William Fitz- Allan of 
Clun, a great benefiictor of Shropshire houses, who, on account of his 
espousal of the cause of the Empress Maud, was banished by K. Stephen, 
and did not enjoy his estates until after the accession of Hen. II., 
who shewed him considerable favour and gave many advantages to his 
foundation here. Ed. I. granted it leave to enclose twenty acres of the 
royal forest adjacent, and Ed. II. sixty more. It thus became surrounded 
by a large park of its own. 

The second seal of the house, drawn from an imperfect but fiur 
impression, is that presented. S. John the Evangelist writing his Gospel 



HEYNINGES PRIORY 87 

forms the subject of the design, which displays the Saint seated to the right 
on a chair or throne which rests upon the back of an ea^le (his famous 
symbol) writing upon a scroll (the end of which is held in tne bird's beak), 
the opening passage : — In PRiNCifpio]. On either side of the Evangelist 
appears an ecclesiastic holding a book and some doubtful article ; in the 
field a crescent and star, whilst over the head of S. John issues a Divine 
Hand — ^inspiring "the word." 

S* COMVNE • CAPITVLI ' DE • HAGHEMON. 
An interesting example, which has no pretensions whatever to the artistic 
but is on the contrary condemned by the marked crudity visible in its 
execution. But the design is singular, and on that account it is admitted to 
our series. 

Although it is impossible to trace the entire foundation, considerable 
ruins still exist and constitute an interesting feature of the historic hill 
upon which they stand. They are exceedingly beautiful and comprehend 
the Chapter house (which is entire) the southern doorwav of the nave 
of the Church, and a line of buildings (held to be the Hall and Abbot's 
apartments) in both Norman and E. K styles. The ponds, in which the 
store of fish was anciendy preserved, also remain. 



HEYNINGES (or Hcvcnyngcs), Priory of S. Mary, 

CO. Lincoln. 

A VERY small, poorly endowed and unimportant establishment, 
t}^ occupied by nuns, of which we can gather but scant information. 

XIII. There is even a doubt as to whether it was a Benedictine or a 

Seal 25. Cistercian house. Some historians place it under the first rule, 

Leland and the Act of Surrender under the second. It lay 
within the parts of Lindsey in the parish of Lea about two miles from 
Gainsborough. Architectural vestiges of no great size, with fish ponds and 
moat, are still to be seen indicating precisely the location. For its origin, 
c. A.D. 1 1 80, it was indebted to Rayner Evermue. Upon the foundation 
there were usually twelve members, exclusive of the Prioress. A 
remarkably fine impression enables us to afford a convincing illustration 
of the Priory seal. The deskrn conveys a trefoiled canopy, supported 
by architectural pillars, with a Church-like structure accommodated to the 
shape of the vesica^ on either side. Below, the B. Virgin, crowned, sits 
enthroned and suckling the Divine Infiint, nimbussed, who sits upon her left 
knee. Above the canopy two censing angels are seen, and in the field of 
the niche a star (above the Virgin's head), sun, crescent, quatrefoil, and a 
second crescent 



88 MONASTIC SEALS 

y • SANCTE • MARIE • ET : CO : UENTVS : D* HEYNINGE. 
From the abundant remains of mediasral seals^ two examples must on 
account of their more magnificent art be distinctly separated. Upon the 
artistic plane, they occupy an altitude of which all other specimens rail short 
The altitude itsdf approaches the highest and marks the final stage of 
devdopmenL The first of the remarkable examples referred to b the 
'* Madonna della Sedia " contributed by Merton Priory ; the second, the 
seal now illustrated, of Heyninges Priory. Between these two certain 
artistic differences naturally exist, but it must be conceded the first named 
is supreme. Both, however, are superlative, and the acknowledged 
supenority of the one does not very appredably out-distance the other. 
Or the seal immediately under notice the design was conceived in intense 
beauty and fervour, and executed with remarkable delicacy, spirit, and skill. 
Examined in detail, every appropriate canon is challenged by the perfect 
disposition of the figures, whilst the figures themselves are drawn not 
only with truth but with marvellous feding also. The features of the 
Vifgin, although they lack that signally beautiful expression of those of 
the Merton Madonna, are finely portrayed— concerning those of the 
Child less can be said — and the draping reaches the acme of grace. 
Viewed as a whole the scheme is exceedingly fine and rich, and the 
impression leads to the conviction that in it we have the echo of a superb 
and exquisite piece of art 



HOLME CULTRAM, Cistercian Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. Cumberland. 

A HOVS£ roval in origin, of some conseauence and associated 
* LATE ^xh some significant historical events. It was well endowed, 
^* and the Abbot was occasionally summoned to Parliament. 

Seal 20. '^^^ sitiution lies below Derwent in a small creak in the 

Irish Sea and in the parish of Holme Cultram, a place of 
importance anciendy and also called Holme Abbey. Michael Scott, the 
reputed wizard, was a monk here and here with his maeic books was 
burnt The Abbey was founded a.d. 1150 by Prince Henry fson of 
David, King of Scotland), who gave it two-thirds of the manor of Holme 
Cultram. At the time, the remaining third was held by Alan, son of 
Waldeve, as a hunting chase, but not long after the monks possessed the 
whole. Upon gaining possession of the county. Hen. II. took the house 
under his care. For its complete estate it was indebted to the genero^ty 
of a number of persons. Through pillage, a.d. 1216, the Abb^ suflltred 



HOLME CULTRAM ABBEY 89 

at the hands of the armjr of Alennder of Scotland. Here, during the 
CXrtober of a.d. 1300, Ea. I. personally liberated the Bishop of Glasgow 
and, in the presence of the Bishop of Carlisle, the Abbot and French 
envoys, received his allegiance. Heedless of the hct that it contained the 
tomb of his father Robert Bruce ravaged and almost demolished the 
house. It was magnificently restored thereafter, and a.d. 1383, to save it 
from destruction during an attack made by the Earl of Douglas, the Abbot 
was forced to pay two hundred pounds. To protect their treasures, books, 
and charters from the abrupt incursions of the Scots the monks erected a 
fortress a short distance west of the Abbey. 

The seal employed bv the Abbey was an armorial example. The 
impresnon available for illustration here is chipped and much injured 
through pressure. In design, it comprises beneath a trefoiled canopy 
upheld by slender columns with architectural work at the top, and against 
a diapered field, the B. Virgin, crowned, holding the Divine Infant in 
her left arm, and standing upon a shield (supported by the hands of two 
monks whose heads only appear besides), which displays three lions passant 
guardant — ^the arms of England — ^in allusion to the patronage which from 
the time of Hen, II. was vested in the crown. On either side of the 
canopy is a small pointed and crocketted niche, the dexter containing a 
full-length representation of an Abbot with staff and book (perhaps 
intendra for S. Robert the founder of the Cistercian order) ; the sinister, 
at the same length, the figure of Hen. II. (whose association has been 
shewn) with crown and sceptre. In the base is a lion, drawn from the 
arms above, dormant 

S'C , BATIS • ET • CONVENTVS • DE • 

HOLMCOLTRAM. 
An ele£;ant and very interesting example, which displays rather novel 
disposition. The theory of its decoration is well conceived, its actual 
arrangement nicely poised. Imperfections in the impression deny 
criticism of the features, but it is dear high skill lies in the treatment of 
the figures. That of the B. Viigin is well drawn and placed, as are the 
remaining, but the Abbatial figure reveals the finest art The draperies 
and vestments are well manipulated, whilst in the heraldic charges the 
charm of medieval blazoning is preserved. Altogether the seal is 
eminently artistic 

At the Dissolution the tenants of the Abbey craved the King to 
spare the Church. He did, and this structure largely restored continues as 
the Parish Church to-day. Although the conventual buildings after the 
surrender received much damage, thor were not finally destroyed until the 
Civil Wars. In the Churchyard a few remains may yet be seen. The 
character of the Church is £.£• 



90 MONASTIC SEALS 

HORSHAM, Benedictine Priory of 8. Faith, 

CO. Norfolk. 

p. ^^^ ^ SMALL foiindatton, originally alien but enfranchised in the 

YVTTI ^^?° ^^ ^^'*' ^^'^ ^^"*^ about four miles from Norwich, 

AVlll. off the Cromer Road. The circumstances which incited its 



Seal 35. erection are of peculiar interest. Robert FitzWalter (also 

called Robert de Cadomo or Caen, son of Walter de Cadomo, 
lord of Horsford) and Sibill his wife (daughter and heiress of Ralph de 
Caineto, or Cheney) were returning in the eariy years of the twelfth 
century, through France, from a pilgnmage to Rome, when they were set 
upon by brieands and captured. In their stress they called upon God and 
S. Faith of Aquitaine (a child martyr of the ancient martyrology of 
France who suffered in the persecution of Diocletian) for deliverance, and 
were miraculously rescued. To the shrine of S. Faith at Conches Abbey 
they proceeded to return thanks. They were hospitably entertained by 
the Abbot and before leaving resolyed, upon a safe return to England, to 
found a Priory in honour of their saintly deliverer. Accordingly, here 
c. A.D. 1 105 they joindy raised the house under notice, and annexed it as a 
cell to Conches. Their descendants and others assisted in increasing its 
possessions. Pope Alexander by Bull confirmed a.d. 1163, in which year 
the Hospital of the Knights of S. John of Jerusalem here was given it 
The scanty records of the Priory are of no particular interest. 

The Chapter seal was a dual one, contrived, as an inscription which 
appeared on the rim indicated, either a.d. 1246 or 1256. Unhappily, the 
impression available for reproduction here is incomplete at one of the sides 
and somewhat lacks lucidity ; nevertheless it affords a good idea of the 
oneinal. The design of the obverse commemorates the miraculous 
deliverance of the founders and displays, under a niche with trefoiled 
arch and pinnacled and crocketted canopy, the full-length figure of 
S. Faith, crowned, and supporting a fleury sceptre. Upon each side of 
the niche, above a low masoned wall, occurs a kneeling figure^ one in 
chains, designed no doubt to represent Robert FitzWalter and Sibill his 
wife. The sceptre which is carried by S. Faith probably alludes to her 
French connection. She was very much esteemed in England. Tradition 
records that she was of noble parentage and very beautifid, and met her 
death stretched upon a fire. A saindy Bishop witnessed her sufiferings 
in a vision. As he prayed in her behalf, lo 1 in the Heavens he saw 
the young maiden crowned with precious and richly coloured stones, 
and further, a dove, from whose wings fell a soft dew which quenched 
the flames, descend and rest upon her head. ^ 

APITUI : ECCE : SCE : FIDIS : [D]E : HORSHAM : 



HYDE ABBEY 91 

The B. Virgin was also r^arded as a patron of the Priorjr, 
PLATE jind in illustration the scheme of the reverse comprehended 
XVIIL ^h^ subject of her Coronation. Bdow a canopy of two 
Seal i6. trefoiled arches, supported by two slender pillars, Our Lord 

is seen seated with the B. Virgin by his side, and placing a 
crown upon her head. On the right hand side appears the head of a monk 
inclining to the left, and bdow it a small shield of arms, quarterly first and 
fourth a bend, second and third a fret (Cheney), for the wife of Robert 
FitzWalter. No doubt a shidd of the husband's armorials appeared in 
correspondence, where the impression is defective. The Coronation of the 
B. Virgin is frequently met with in seal art. In the mosaics on the tribune 
of Sta Maria in Trastevere, Rome, is the oldest known representation of 
the theme. It dates from about the middle of the twelfth century. Fra 
Angdico has made us familiar with it. 

ECCE : CORONATA • SEDET : HIC : PIA : [VIRGO : BEATA :] 
The bordures of both parts of the seal were beaded. Of the inscription 
which appeared on the rim the following is all that can be read from the 
impression : — 

MIL : DVCENT : Q O : SEX [TO :] 

This example readily commends itsdf, not alone on account of its beauty 
but by reason of the little parajgraph of minor history presented by the first, 
and the graphic delineation ofits theme b^ the second part. Artistically, 
both schemes in their apprehension are distinctly good, and as far as the 
condition of the impression allows us to judge — to a limited extent only — 
expressed with considerable skiU. All the fi^;ures, induding the two little 
captives upon the obverse, would appear to have been well drawn ; 
they are all arranged with truth and gracefully draped, whilst the 
architecture of the nrst prt is excdlent. iBut it is the effect of the two 
schemes we are most qualified to estimate, and the condusion is that in this 
they are both happy. 



HYDE (or Ncwminstcr) , Benedictine Abbey of SS. Peter, 

Grimbald, and Barnabas, co. Hants. 

One of our more disdnfi^uished and statdy seats of monasticism 
*^LATE which boasted a royal foundation and an ancient lineage. It 
XXIV. possessed great wealth, many valuable privileges, influence 
Seal 48. ^^^^ * ^S^ *^^> *^d * magnificent Church which contained 

the tombs of Alfred the Great, his Queen, and some of the 
Saxon Kings. Without the walls of the city of Winchester, it stood in 
the suburb of Hyde (part of the parish of"^ S. Bartholomew), but was 



92 MONASTIC SEALS 

originaUy erected upon the north side of the dthedral. There, K. Alfred 
began, in honour of the Holy Trinity, B. Virgin, and S. Peter, the 
erection of a noble Church, completed by his son Edward who also built 
the offices necessary for the reception of a religious society. By charter 
dated a.d. 903 K. Ed. liberally endowed it and placed therein a number of 
secular canons under the Abbacy of Grimbald, a learned monk brought by 
K. Alfred out of Flanders. To distinguish the new from the old 
foundation of S. Swithun*s this was called Newminster. The ground it 
absorbed was obtained of the monks of the ancient house and certain 
citizens. It was three acres and three vircates in extent, and every foot 
(William of Malmesbury) cost a mark of gold. K. Ed.'s successors, 
Athelstan, Edmund, and Edred also contributed to the estate of 
Newminster. Compbunts having been made against the seculars, K. Edgar 
directed Bishop Ethelwold of^ Winchester to introduce the rule of 
S. Benedict, which he did. Alwr the Abbot, brother of Earl Godwin, 
accompanied Harold and was skin with him at Hastings. Out of 
revenge for the Abbot's opposition the Conqueror seized the Abbey and 
parcelled its estate between himself and his partizans, but afterwards 
restored what he had appropriated personally and compensated for the 
rest. Throughout his reign William Rufus appropriated the rents and 
sold the Abbey to Herbert de I/>singa, Abbot of^ Ramsey, who purchased 
it for his father, and the Bishopric of^Thetford for himself. For the story 
of the Bishop's splendid expiation see Norwich Priory. Upon the 
accession of Hen. I. the grievances of the preceding reign were remedied. 
Between the monks of the two houses difierences repeatedly occurred 
which rendered separation desirable ; moreover those of Newminster were 
anxious to obtain a quieter and more convenient situation. Hyde was 
selected as a new site, upon which Hen. I. erected a magnificent house, and 
thither a.d. mo the monks of Newminster retreated. In the time of 
K. Stephen the Church and buildings were destroyed by fire, and in the 
following reign rebuilt on lines of even greater stateliness. Henry of 
Blois, Bishop of Winchester, was accused of the destruction of the erection 
of Hen. I. He was sued by the monks, and forced to go to Rome to 
clear himself. 

The second seal of the house was a fine and dual instance. The 
impression in the National collection is, as regards the obverse, so woefidly 
indistinct as to defy anything like a satisfactory reproduction here. It is 
the reverse — which, whilst it lacks sharpness of oudine, has sufiered less 
than the companion part through the vicissitudes of the centuries — ^which 
forms the subject of our relative note. Obversely the design comprehended 
an elaborately designed Gothic facade of three niches, the central containing 
the enthronement of S. Peter, between Kings Alfred and Edward the 



KENILWORTH ABBEY 93 

Elder, with some minor embelltshment in the field. Reversely, it comprises 
an architectural fa^e (differing in design from that upon the obverse) 
consisting of three pointed niches, trefoiled upon the inner and pinnacled 
and crocketted upon the outer side, the centre one of larger proportions 
than the rest* In this instance the chief is occupied by o. Barnabas the 
Aposde, with a long cross in his right hand, a book in the left ; the dexter 
by S. Valentine, supporting a symbol the nature of which it is difficult 
to determine, and the sinister S. Grimbald, the first Abbot, with stafF and 
book. Below the central figure and in the field beyond the side niches 
the relative names of the Saints depicted are inscribed, and the plinth 
sustains certain indecipherable lettering presumed to be the conclusion of 
an hexameter verse commenced upon the obverse. The first and second 
persons of the original dedication seem to have disappeared. Of the new 
foundation SS. Barnabas and Grimbald were occasionally included in the 
patronage, which explains their appearance here. S. Valentine^s association 
is not immediately apparent. The almost obsolete custom, once of very 
wide prevalence, of sending Valentines upon his festival arose from the 
ancient notion that on that day birds began to pair. 

: HYDA : PATRONORVM : IVGI : PRECE : TVTA : SIT : 

HORVM : 
That Hyde Abbey was in the enjoyment of a superb seal is manifest 
from our illustration and the even richer obverse. Its style in essentials 
embraced that of various others of its time and order. The scheme of the 
reverse faithfully responds to very rigorous canons of art. In its architec- 
tural ornament much beauty is evinced ; in its figures accurate disposition 
and drawing were achieved, together with a eraceful efiFect in varied 
draping. Tne standard reached in facial limning it is impossible to estimate. 
When Leland reached here, but a fewyears after the Dissolution, the 
splendid fabric had all but vanished. The Chiu^h of S. Barnabas is 
reputed to have been erected with its stones. Very little now remains — a 
gateway and some parts of the precinct walls and outbuildings are all* 



KENILWORTH, Austin Canons' Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. Warwick. 

A RICH, well privil^ed house, originaUy a Priory, which stood 
PLATE cast of the stately casde, the remains of which constitute a 
XXXVII. picturesque and interesting feature of the town. An ancient 
Seal 73. gateway and some fragments of the walls yet indicate the 

precise site of the Abbey. It was founded a.d. 1122 by 
Geofifrey de Clinton — ^Treasurer and Chamberlain of Hen. L, from whom 



94 MONASTIC SEALS 

he received the manor — ^who afterwards commenced the erection of the 
castle. To the canons installed in the relimous establishment he gave with 
other property all the lands and woods of Renilworth save what he reserved 
for the fortress and park. His son also was one of several benefactors. 
The canons had power to keep court-leet, assize of bread and beer, the 
right to try malefactors, freedom from suit to county and hundred courts, 
and various free warrens. During the si^e of the castle, temp. Hen. III. 
the resources of the house were reduced to a d^ee which necessitated a call 
for assistance from its various tenants. A little counterseal, used in 
conjunction with the corporate, affords the subject of .our illustration, 
taken from a good impression. The design comprehends the half-length 
figure of an Angel — in view of the dedication, probably intended tor 
S. Gabriel — raising the right hand in blessing. 

CERA PATES CELAT Q« CARTVLA SCESA REVELAT. 

A charming little instance, full of grace and beauty. Although the features are 
entirely efraced the remaining detail proves the high art involved in conception 
and execution. The figure is well modelled, and the wings are weU drawn, 
whilst the folds of the vesting are as richly as they are finely delineated. 



KIRKSTEAD, Cistercian Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. Lincoln. 

A HOUSE of no mean size or importance which possessed an 
*^^^TE ample revenue. It stood upon the river Witham, about two 
^^^^* miles distant from TattershalL To-day a few ruins and a 

Seal 26. remarkably beautiful chapel of E.E. character are to be seen. 

Erected a.d. i 139 upon a plain hemmed in with brambles and 
marshes (said to have received the name of ^^ Kirkstead '* in prophesy 
before any such structure was contemplated) and endowed by Hugo 
Brito, son of Eudo, lord of Tateshale. It was filled with monks from 
Fountains Abbey. About the date of foundation William de Dentune 
made a gift of the wood of Langhage. Other and later benefactors 
included Gerard de Furnivall, who gave a mill for the maintenance of 
candles at mass ; Richard de Builli, certain building sites, an orchard, land 
for the erection of two forges for founding and two for working iron, 
permission to mine sufficient coal for two fires and collect wood from the 
forest for four ; and Guarin, who granted the use of his quarries. A historian 
of the Cistercians, Hugh, was a native and an inmate of the Abbey. 

A very fine impression enables us to present the seal of the Abbot 
and convent, a valuable armorial exemplification. The scheme comprises 
primarily a pointed niche (pinnacled and crocketted upon the exterior and 



KYME PRIORY 95 

trefeiled within die interior, supported by two architectural pillars rising 
from a platform) which contains the enthronement of the B. Virgin, 
crowned, and the Holy In&nt upon her left knee. On either side of 
the canopy is a shield of arms, that on the left side blazoning chequy 
a chief ermine ; that on the right a cross moline. Below the platform 
referred to is a row of three Norman arches under which the Abbot 
with pastoral staff kneels to the right with two monks, depicted at 
half-length, all three petitioning the figures above. In the field over the 
Vimn's hesd is a star ; on the right of the canopy a bird ; over the sinister 
shidd the letter " S " with a wavy sprig of foliage, and over the dexter 
the letter ** K " with corresponding detau. The arms of the first shield 
are those of Tattershalle, the founder's fiimily, but it is difficult to account 
for the others. Although unrecorded, it was perhaps employed as a 
distinctive coat by the house. The bird was possibly introduced to typify 
the Holy Spirit. The seal dates from the Abbacy of Simon (a.d. 1250) 
and the initial letters stand for "Simon of Kirkstead.'' The sprigs or 
brambles allude, maybe, to the nature of the site. 

SIGILLV • COMVNE • ABBATIS • ET • COVENTUS • SCE • 

MARIE • DE • KYRKESTEDE 
In the seal described we have not only an exquisite and striking example, 
but, as the elucidation of its ornament shews, one of very great interest also. 
Its virtues lie chiefly in its composition. In the grouping of the well-selected 
elements of its design excellent taste is manifest. Its contriver was 
indubitably an artist of no mean order or skill. The cSect of his work is 
considerable magnificence without detraction from purity or grace. Our 
analysis details specifically the extent of its ornament, and so artistically is 
this distributed that not an item is imperfect or suffers from lack of space. 
Compared with the illustration which accompanies it on the plate the standard 
of its execution falls short of it, but No. 25, as we have elsewhere noted, is a 
superlative example. In brief, the instance afforded here is decidedly artistic. 



KYME, Austin Priory of S Mary, 

CO. Lincoln. 

A VERY small institution, which contained at the Dissolution 
^^^^^ no more than nine canons exclusive of the Prior. Once 
vl. situated in the parish of South Kyme about six miles from 

Seal i i . ^^^ market town of Sleaford, where the Bishops of Lincoln 

had anciently a magnificent palace, of which there is now no 
trace. Founded in the reign of^Hen. II. by Philip de Kyme, Knight, and 
endowed by him, his son Simon, and some few others. Information 



96 MONASTIC SEALS 

regarding this foundation is very meagre. Its life, public and private, was 
perhaps silent and uneventful from its inception until the period when 
Ralph Fsurfax, the last Prior, was called upon to surrender his chai^. At 
that time its revenue was ample to comfortably maintain its complement. 
The seal of the house illustrated here (from an impression which, though 
complete, betrays sad havoc from pressure) was the first employed t^ it. It 
gave place to another of later contrivance and difierent derign. The scheme 
of this under notice presents a graphic realization of a theme very frequently 
encountered in seal art — ^the ^' Annunciation/' Within a cable bordure it 
exhibits the B. Virgin at full length and nimbussed, before whom appears the 
angel Gabriel also nimbussed (and depicted at full length) to haU her as 
"highly fitvoured" of the Lord and "blessed .... among women/* 
and to announce to her that she should conceive in her womb and bring 
forth a Son who should ^* be called the Son of the Highest** Between the 
two figures is z fleuT'-de-lis^ symbolic of the Virgin's purity, growing upon a 
long stalk out of a flower pot (the invariable accompaniment of mediaeval 
representations of this subject), a device which is repeated behind the B. Vii^gin, 
where the stalk iscurved to comply with the restrictions of the configuration. 

* SIGILLVM PRIORIS ET CONVENTVS DE KIM A. 
Although, as we have observed already, the subject of the seal is common 
to the art we are attempting to illustrate, it probably received here unique 
treatment since other representations we have seen display the theme less 
graphically. From a cause we are, unhappily, so frequently called upon 
to deplore — the imperfect nature of the impression — ^we are deprived of a 
complete deduction in regard to its artistic qualities. Superficially, 
however, it would appear that these were mat. The design is a beautiful 
one. The figures apparently were weU drawn, nicely disposed, and 
gracefully vested. The feathering and shape of the angel*s wing ^chibit 
skilful limning. Our final conclusion is that in the object which serves our 
illustration we have the shadow of an unusually fine substance. 



KYPIER (or Kcpirc), Hospital of S. Giles, 

CO. Durham. 

A PAIR hospice which contained a Master and 

*^^-^^^ brethren. It enjoyed a . delightful situation, since it stood 
^* close to the lovely woods of Kypier where a stream flows 

Seal q. through a deep, rocky, and richly-verdant ravine, below the 

Chapel of S. Mary Magdalene. Founded and endowed 
A.D. 1112, fidy in honour of the patron of the woodland, by Ralph 
Flambard, Bishop of Durham. The charitable character of the house 



LANERCOST PRIORY 97 

afibrded it no protection from the contentions of the times, for we find in 
the following reign (that of Stephen) when the usurper Comyn hankered 
after the great Bishopric and Palatinate of Durham, he and his partizans 
laid the hospice with its adjoining Chapel in ashes. Another prelate of 
Durham, Hugh de Puisac (a.d. ii 53-1 195) effected its restoration. He 
rebuilt the edifice, confirmed its original possessions, enlarged them, and 
for its future government drew up a body of statutes which, inier alia^ . 
directed that of the thirteen members thenceforward to be upon the 
foundation, six should officiate in the Chapel (one as confessor) and the 
remainder cany out the domestic duties. 

In the use of a seal the brethren seem to have been somewhat 
inconstant, since it is the fourth employed by them which aflbrds our 
illustration. It is taken from a good impression. The design exhibits, 
against a diapered field, a representation of S. Giles (Egidius, patron 
of Edinburgh, who was born at Athens a.d. 645) vested as a Bishop, 
with pastoral staff in the lefr hand, standing upon a corbel (embellished 
with masonry, a terrace of circular-headed arches, and a string course 
or frieze) accompanied by a fawn, tripping away from, but looking 
towards him. For the poetical l^end which associates the animal here 
depicted with S. Giles, we must refer the reader to our Introduction 
(p. 25). The lozengy spaces of the diapering are each occupied by a 
rose, and a row of^the same appears on the frieze. Possibly these 
flowers were suggested by and alluded to the situation of the Hospital. 

* SIGILLVM : SANCTI : EGIDII : DE : KYPPIER. 
This constitutes a very pleasing example. Both the design and the method 
of carrying it out were delicate and apt. In our impression the countenance 
is ruined, but the figure is well portrayed and disposed, whilst the vestments 
are richly and adroitly presented. 

A picturesque gateway with a wide pointed arch is all that now 
remains of this estimable foundation. 



LANERCOST, Austin Canons' Priory of S. Mary Magdalene, 

CO. Cumberland. 

A HOUSE, with important historical associations, which stood 
PLATE upon the northern bank of the river Irthing about two miles 

"VT TTI /• /• ^ • 

A.j^iii. j^nd a half from Brampton. Although ample, its estate was 

Seal 8 c. ^^^ of great magnitude. Founded a.d. 1169 by Robert de 

Vallibus, lord of Gilsland, and endowed by him and others. 
Ed. I., who annexed two Churches, visited it on three occasions, firstly 
with Queen Eleanor, thirdly with Queen Margaret. In a.d. 1296 it was 

H 



98 MONASTIC SEALS 

burnt by the Scots. Here Robert Bruce, King of Scotland, a.d. 131 i lay 
with his army for three days. He imprisoned several of die monks, but 
ultimately gave them their liberty. In a.d. 1344 the house was again 
pillaged, by David, King of Scotland. We are fortunate in having the 
use of a very fine impression to illustrate the Priory seal. It displayed a 
full-length representation of the patroness, S. Mary Magdalene, dad in 
long flowing attire, holding in her right-hand a palm branch and in her 
left a covered unguent-pot (her customary emblem), standing upon a 
platform, between wavy branches of flowers and foliage (reminiscent, 
perhaps, of the famous meeting in the Garden), and below a crescent and 
wavy star. 

S' CAPITL'I : SCE : MARIE : MAGDALENE : DE : 

LANRECOST. 

A fine bold example which in the treatment of the figure displays 
remarkable vigour and secures that clever effect of large dimensions 
elsewhere denoted and appraised. In the features much skill is in 
evidence, in the drawing ot the form and its pose more, but it is in the 
depiction of costume the artist excelled. The folds of the latter are not 
only gracefully thought out but wrought with distinct ability. Viewed as 
a whole, the art of the seal reaches a very high standard. 

The nave of the ancient Abbey Church has been preserved, and 
continues as the parish Church. It is chiefly in E.E. style, with Norman 
portions. There are both picturesque and interesting ruins of other parts 
of the institution. They comprise vestiges of other portions of the Church, 
cloisters, refectory and other buildings, grown over with ivy, ash, and 
other plants. The western gateway which consists of a Norman arch 
supported by pilasters is richly decorated and surmounted by a statue of 
S. Mary Magdalene. 



LANGDON, Prcmonstratcnsian Abbey of SS. Mary and 

Thomas the Martyr, co. Kent. 

A SMALL inconsequential establishment, prevented from 
^hw maintaining its abbatial dignity by an inadequate revenue. It 

XIV. ^j^3 situated inland about tfiree miles from the ancient Cinque 

Seal 27. P^*^ ^^ Dover, within the parish of West Langdon, and lathe 

of S. Augustine. A few ivy-covered walls are all that now 
remain of the Abbey and Church which adjoined. Erected a.d. 1192 
by William de Auberville, who endowed it and installed certain white 
canons from Leyston, Suffolk. The founder's charter was confirmed by 



LANGDON ABBEY 99 

Simon de Abrinciis, presumed to have been the superior lord of the fee, 
and by Nicholas de CrioU, Knight — who likewise assured the advowsons of 
numerous Churches — in the time of Ed. I. Gunnora de Soveldone and 
Dennise de Newesole granted a chapel at Newesole. For the reason stated, 
the election of an Abbot ceased for a long period, the Prior administering 
in chief, but in the reign of Hen. VIII. the higher office was again filled. 
References to the house during the three and a half centuries it continued 
are very meagre. By inference, contending against the trials its poverty 
induced was the most active part it enacted. 

Two seals of the Abbey have been selected for illustration. The first 
is the corporate contrivance which is of two parts ; the second, perhaps, 
although it is not so defined by the superscription, an ad causas. Of 
the first, executed late in the thirteenth century, the matrices are still 
extant. That they are somewhat worn would appear from our illustration 
which is derived from a modern impression. Obversely, the design 
comprehends an architectural facade of three pointed niches, pinnacled 
and crocketted, with an architectural wing, composed of windows and 
supported by a bracket, on either side. In each case the side niches are 
occupied by four storeys of double niches, but the central is exhibited in 
section, and contains, under an arch with five cusps and above a corbel in 
which several quatrefoil panels are sunk, the enthronement of the B. Virgin 
— the chief patroness — crowned and supporting the Divine Infant. 

*SIGILL* • COMMVNE : MONASTERII : ECCE : BE : MARIE : 

DE : LANGEDON : 

Reversely, the subject of the seal is the martyrdom of 
PLATE s. Thomas of Canterbury, the second patron. The scheme 
XIV. comprises, against a diapered field, Canterbury Cathedral, 

Seal 28. represented here with central spire surmounted by a cross, 

gable ends with crosses, and three storeys of double niches. 
The side of the Cathedral is in section and reveals the action of the tragedy. 
Here the Archbishop is seen kneeling before the high altar, and behind 
him his four murderers, Reginald Fitzurse, Hugh de Morville, William de 
Tracy, and Richard the Breton, the leader with sword about to strike, 
whilst one of the monks, who had vainly besought him to fly, holds up a 
long cross and protests against the murder. 

: CAVSA : DOMVS : XPI : MORTEM : SIC : INTVLIT : ISTI : 
By reason of the comparative infrequency of pictorial representation in 
seal art and the commemoration here of an historical event this seal 
possesses great interest. Both in its causes and consequences the incident 
depicted, not without a certain power of expression if with qualified 
skill, was largely significant. The courage with which the Archbishop met 
his death persuaded the people of the justice of his disagreement with the 






2211"^ m 



100 MONASTIC SEALS 

King, whilst his opposition to the Danegdt, with his charity and austerities, 
his championship of the rights of the Church, and his loyal adhesion to a 
cause exacted from the poor, the clergy, and all classes an extraordinary 
measure of respect. In a.d. 1174 he was canonized, and took his 
place in the English calendar as the fevourite hero of the Church. His 
martyrdom gave rise to a wide devotion in mediaeval times, to which the 
seal draws attention. Both schemes were artistically conceived, but in their 
execution reveal some crudity. Whilst the architecture of the obverse is 
well presented, and the disposition and vesting of the figures are not lacking 
in merit, the figures themselves betray inaccuracies of drawing. Upon the 
reverse the Church is well wrought. The figures within it are somewhat 
unfinished, but the grouping is effective and the result vivid and real. 

The second seal belonging to the Abbey which finds illustration 
*^-^TE here is drawn from an excellent impression. In design it 
XLVI. exhibits the enthronement of the B. Virgin, crowned, with her 

Seal 91. ^^^ resting upon a carved corbel, supporting on the left the 

Child Jesus, nimbussed, and a fleurs-de-lis sceptre in her right 
hand. The Infant raises the right Hand in benediction and holds the 
Gospels in His left. 

+ S* ECCCE : BE : MARIE : DE : LANGEDONNE : 
If we apply the stringent canons of art to this instance, of necessity we 
must define it as defective ; the position of the B. Virgin is cramped and 
uncomfortable, whilst the figure is not drawn with the strictest faith. 
But if we temper criticism with sympathy we recognize in it much 
feeling, honesty of eflTort and latent skill, together with a boldness of 
treatment which is praiseworthy. Unless a fiction of the Commissioner — 
a very reasonable conjecture — the discovery made by Leyton when he 
forced an entrance to the Abbey does not redound to the credit of the 
last Abbot of Langdon. 



LEDES, Austin Canons' Priory of SS. Mary and Nicholas, 

CO. Kent. 

A FAMOUS house, charmingly situated upon a hill of gentle 
P^^TE ascent which overshadows a stream falling into the sea, and 
XXVI. sheltered by a wood. The manor (conjectured to have received 

Seal 51. ^^^ tide from Ledian, a counsellor of Ethelbert IL, who erected 

a fortress within it) belonged to Archbishop Odo, and was 
afterwards given by Wm. I. to Robert de CrAvecoeur (Rivenheart). 



LEDES PRIORY loi 

In lieu of the Saxon fortalice, Robert a.d. 107 i erected another, one of 
the most interesting in all England, and with a view of supplying the 
spiritual needs of its occupants afterwards determined to raise a 
religious foundation near by. Accordingly, he and his son Adam, 
A.D. 1 1 19, erected this Priory with a Church upon a site they gave 
about three^uarters of a mile distant. The founders endowed the 
Priory with land lying on either side, free commonage for cattle, East 
Park wood and some fields which adjoined. Subsequent members 
of the De Crivecoeur family increased its possessions. In the reign 
of Hen. II. their castle was sequestered. In that of Rich. II. the 
Prior and some other members of the house slew a monk of 
S. Albans. After considerable dissension with the injured Abbey they 
were absolved by Pope Boniface IX. Through poverty, the Priory 
was threatened with extinction in the reign of Hen. VII., when 
James Goldwell, Bishop of Norwich, came to its relief. He also 
founded a chantry for one priest who was to say a daily mass for 
ever upon the altar of the patroness, which stood in the nave 
of the Church, for the good of his and the souls of his parents. 
The Priory was subject to the jurisdiction of the See of Canterbury, 
a subjection Pope Innocent III. confirmed. Accordingly the Prior 
was instituted by the Archdeacon, who was entitled to remain at the 
Priory for two nights and a day, receiving food the while. 

The second seal of the house, a dual one (each part of which 
commemorates a unit of the joint dedication), forms the subject of our 
corresponding plate. Although the left-hand side of the impression 
which serves us is wanting, what remains is distinctly fine and lucid. 
The scheme of the obverse comprehends a niche, with a canopy 
over of three pointed arches, pinnacled and crocketted, and two 
architectural supports, each containing four double-arched windows 
placed one above the other. The interior of the niche is divided 
into two sections. The first, the larger, contains the enthronement 
of the B. Virgin, who supports the Holy Child upon her knee with 
the left, and hands him a ball with the right hand, between two 
angels, each with an elevated wing. Above a trefoiled arch, arcaded 
at the sides, the second section contains a representation of the 
Prior, between two canons, depicted at half-length and in prayer. 
Upon the right of the field, outside the facade, is a triple-towered 
castle which speaks of the proximity of, and association with Ledes 
Castle, with a rose and a drooping lily-flower, both emblems of 
the B. Virgin, above and below. Presumably these ornaments were 
engraved upon the sinister side (now torn away) in correspondence. 

[S]IGILLVM • COMMVNE -EC S. 



I02 MONASTIC SEALS 

As regards the architectural detail, the design of the reverse 
"^-^^E resembles with slight variation that of the chief part. The 
XXVL principal section of the niche is, in this instance, occupied 

Seal C2. ^7 ^ representation of S. Nicholas (fiishop of Myra and the 

** Santa Claus" of the children) mitred, seated, raising the 
right hand in blessing and grasping a staff with the left, between two 
canons, both standing and holding a book. Under a trefoiled arch in the 
lower section is depicted a tub, containing three children between two 
angels. A sprig of foliage is introduced in the field on the right, and the 
name of the saint upon the inner annulus, but what device corresponded upon 
the left we are unable to conjecture. S. Nicholas was anciently one of the 
more popular saints, whose name was inscribed in all the calendars. He is 
reputed to have suffered torture and imprisonment in the persecution of 
Diocletian, and to have afterwards appeared, with his glorious scars, with 
other Confessors at the Council of Nice. He was regarded essentially as 
the patron of tiny children, sailors, scholars, distressed maidens, the 
oppressed and the stranger, and is still the patron of Russia. The device 
at the base ' of the reverse commemorates one of the many legends which 
were extant concerning him. A rather gruesome story, thus related. 
During his episcopate, a terrible famine came over Myra and an 
innkeeper, through the dearth of food, was tempted to murder his 
children. He did so and placed their bodies in a salting pan, with a view 
of serving them up to his guests. As S. Nicholas passed one day he was 
shocked by the voices of tortured children. He descended to the cellar, 
and after praying drew the children out of the tub alive. In England 
S. Nicholas was highly popular. There was scarce a town of any 
magnitude, it is said, which did not possess a Church dedicated to him. 
On his feast the ** Boy Bishop " pageants commenced. 

E : A[NNO :] DNI : M : CC : NONOG' : TERCIO. 

By reason of its story an interesting example and at the same time, on 
account of a certain originality of treatment which it exhibits, a striking 
one. From its apprehension we deduce the action of a mind imaginative 
as well as devout and artistic, in which, moreover, legend was as irreh'agable 
as truth. Viewed concretely, every detail being well marshalled and 
telling, the arrangement of both schemes is excellent, and the effect 
secured one of much beauty and richness. Scanned analytically, defects 
in the modelling of the chier figures are revealed as well as inaccuracies of 
drawing, a slight absence of the natural in their postures, and a lack 
of facial expression, but otherwise they are very commendable. As 
regards the draperies and vestments, our selection will afford numerous 
examples which excel in this respect, but these here are not ungracefully 
pelineated. Differing from what is almost a rule, in this case the lesser 



LUFFIELD PRIORY 103 

futures of the designs seem to have evoked most pains in the execution. 
The little angels and the drooping^ lily are presented in a highly artistic 
fashion. Upon the artistic plane the seal as a whole, occupies an elevated 
position. It dates from a.d. 1293. 

The Church of the Abbey, which contained a famous shrine of the 
B. Virgin, equalled in beauty and proportions and magnificence some of 
our Cathedrals, whilst the domestic buildings constituted a pile of 
corresponding size and grandeur. All have disappeared. 



LUFFIELD, Benedictine Priory of S. Mary, 

CO. Northampton. 

This house, in consequence of its poverty, did not continue to 
P^ATK meet the common doom but suffered extinction in the reign 
XXXIV. which preceded. It stood in the forest of Whittlewood, 
Seal 68. within the lordship of Silveston, and curiously linked the 

counties of Northampton and Buckingham — the Church 
standing in the first, the conventual offices in the second. Founded, 
femp. Hen. I., by Robert Bossu, Earl of Leicester, who conveyed to a 
monk named Malgerius ground for the erection, and nominated him the 
first Prior. The names of several benefactors are on record. And at one 
time the house appears to have enjoyed an estate by no means insignificant. 
Ed. I. gave it a hermitage ; Ed. III. a three days fair. In the reign of the 
latter, Henry Greene, Knight, bestowed one hundred marks to renew the 
roof of the choir. Daily masses were said in return, for the estate of his 
famUy and their souls. At the hands of robbers the Priory suffered 
^ considerably in the reign of Hen. III. 

A fine impression of its seal enables us to present a good illustration. 
This reveals the design to have comprehended, upon a diapered field, a 
ttefoiled arch, with Church-like canopy upheld by two spiral columns 
(pQSsibly unique in mediaeval seal art), which contains the enthronement 
of the B. Virgin, who holds the Holy Infant (cruciformly nimbussed, the 
right Hand raised in benediction, the left holding a book of the Gospels) 
on her left knee, and a fleury sceptre in her right hand. In the base the 
Prior kneels to the left. 

S' : COMMVNIS : SANCTE : MARIE : D\ LVFFEILT. 
An example, with little to commend it, introduced on account of the 
peculiar style of its architectural ornament. But small are the claims of 
the seal to be considered artistic, and but meagre was the skill involved in 
its execution. Luffield Priory was suppressed by Pope Alexander VI. 



I04 MONASTIC SEALS 

and its estate annexed to Westminster Abbey, in furtherance of the erection 
of his famous chapel there by Hen. VIL No architectural vestiges 
remain, but a boundary-cross marks the site of the Church. 



MERTON, Austin Canons' Priory of S. Mary, , 

CO, Surrey. 

A FAMOUS and liberally endowed house, situated upon the river 
PLATE Wandle in the parish of the name, in which S. Thomas 
L k Becket was educated and Merton College, Oxford, probably 

Seal i. originated. If not the first, one of the earlier Augustinian 

settlements in England. Some variance is to be found in the 
accounts which relate its foundation. One states that it was erected iem^. 
Hen. I., by Gilbert Norman, High SheriflF of Surrey, who is said to have 
endowed with the manor and obtained the royal confirmation ; another, 
that the manor was granted a.d. 1121 by the King to certain canons to 
enable them to construct it. The first Prior was Robert Bayle, the 
tutor of S. Thomas of Canterbury. We find the first erection to have 
been built of wood; in a.d. 1130 the foundations were laid of a stone 
structure completed six years later. During the reign of Hen. III. the 
Priory was brought into some prominence. Here the Barons a.d.- 1236 
held a Parliament in which those laws distinguished as the ** Provisions of 
Merton" (if we except the Magna Carta, the most ancient group of 
English statutes only annulled in a.d. 1863) were enacted. At this 
assembly an efiFort was made to introduce the imperial and canon law, which 
evoked from the Barons the famous challenge : — " We will not have the 
laws of England changed 1 '* It was here also peace was brought about by 
the Papal Legate, Gaulo, between Henry and the dauphin of France. 
And when, for opposing a foolish war policy, Hubert de Burgh, the great 
Chief Justiciary, fell under under Henry's anger here he found a renige. 
During the same reign, within the Priory, Walter de Merton, Lord High 
Chancellor and later Bishop of Rochester, established a school of 
learning afterwards, it is credited, transferred to Oxford. The seal of the 
Priory illustrated, in relation to this note, forms the subject of our 
premier plate. It was a dual contrivance of silver, executed during the 
administration of Robert de Hexham, or Hegham, and admitted, as we 
learn from a chronicle, with some solemnity upon the eve of the Feast of 
S. Lucia (Dec. 12) a.d. 1241. 

The impression which supplies our illustration is a remarkably fine 
one ; it dates from about the middle of the thirteenth century and is 



MERTON PRIORY 105 

composed of red wax. Speaking of the dedication, the obverse displays 
below a canopy (composed of a square pinnacled tower, with a spire which 
reaches the apex of the vesica, and two gables at either extremity also 
pinnacled and embellished with narrow circular-headed windows and 
apertures of varied shape) the enthroned figure of the B. Virgin, crowned 
and apparrelled in an embroidered costume jewelled at the neck. Upon 
her len knee she supports the Child (cruciformly nimbussed, raising the 
right Hand in blessing, holding in the left the Gospels) and maintams in 
her right hand a sceptre, topped with the heraldic form of the lily. The 
sceptre is surmounted by a vesica-shaped panel, containing the bust of 
a tonsured canon inclining towards the central figures, duplicated on the 
corresponding side of the field. The platform upon which the throne 
rests is supported by a corbel, on which is designed a composite fleur-de-lis 
of great beauty, whilst the field has a lozenge diapering, each vacancy 
containing a rose or quatrefoil flower. Flowers are emblemtic of love 
and devotion, and a connection between the canons whose heads appear 
and these floral ornaments might have been intended. The entire scheme 
is confined within a beaded bordure, which contains in Lombardic 
characters the legend. 
SIGILU : ECCLESIE : SANCTE : MARIE : DE : MERITONA : 

The design of the obverse, which follows the earliest type of 
^^-^T^ Abbatial seals, comprises the figure of a Bishop, clad in 
^* slightly embroidered vestments as for mass and mitred, 

Seal 2. holding the right hand in blessing grasping a staflF with the 

left, standing upon a bracket (which exhibits some sculptured 
work) beneath an architectural canopy. DifiFering from that of the 
obverse, the canopy here depicted is of a more minute design. It 
comprises a representation of what is apparently a cruciform Church 
(with narrow circular-headed windows and openings), the west end of 
which rests upon the apex of the arch, whilst the transepts are placed upon 
the slopes ; on either side is a pinnacled tower with spire and windows. 
The field is diapered in harmony with the chief part and the design is 
contained within a similar border, which displays in corresponding 
characters the legend. 

+ MVNDI : LVCERNA : NOS AVGUSTINE : GUBERNA. 
Upon the rim of a complete impression ran the following inscription : — 
AV[GVSTI]NE • PATER • QVOS • INSTRVIS • IN • MERITONA • 
[HIS • CHRJISTI • MATER • TVT[RI] X • [EST]ATQV[E • 

PAT]RONA- 
As this indicates, the episcopal figure was intended for S. Augustine, 
Bishop of Hippo, a.d. 395. From him the Augustinians claimed to have 
received their rule. In the obverse of the seal here delineated we have 



io6 MONASTIC SEALS 

not only the highest example of seal art extant, but in all likelihood the 
finest ever achieved. This probability rests upon the conviction that it 
would have been almost an impossibility to surpass it. The design is not 
elaborate, and in its simplicity may be discerned an element of that grace 
which artistic fervour and delicacy of execution complete. It is a 
consummate work of art which would distinguish and grace any epoch. 
For a fuller appreciation, and an estimate of its value and significance in 
the history ot art reference must be made to our Introduction (p. 3). 
The qualities of the reverse are by no means uniform with those of die 
obverse. Nevertheless, both in design and execution, its art is perfect. 
Modelling, vesting, expression and disposition all claim our admiration as 
does its beautiful simplicity. As a companion part to the chief it is in 
every way fitting. Alone it attests that lofty articulation of which the art 
was capable at the hands of a skilled executant, with a force adequate to 
maintain it. 

At the time of the great Civil War, a large portion of the Priory 
stood, but the outer walls, nearly entire, with a Norman doorway in 
them, are about all that now subsist. 



MIDDLETON, or Milton, Benedictine Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. Dorset 

Although not classified with the great English Abbeys, this 
^~^ possessed great wealth and influence. The Church once 

^^* annexed — z superb minster, architecturally of high degree, 

Seal 79. stands north of the site. It was contained in the parish of 

Middleton (a name describing its position in the county) now 
called (in consequence) Milton-Abbas, and stood westerly upon a rising 
ground, sheltered by timbered hills, where three vales converged. It was 
renowned for its saintly relics. It exercised farming operations in the 
district of Middleton (of which manor the Abbot was lord) upon a gigantic 
scale. Some idea of their magnitude is derived from a summary of the 
Abbev live stock in the time of Hen. VI. still available. The house 
was founded c. a.d. 933, in honor of SS. Mary, Michael, Sampson and 
Branwalader (whose arm it possessed) by K. Athelstan, as an expiative 
measure for the destruction of his brother Edwin upon a groundless 
suspicion. K. Athelstan endowed with considerable land, a weir on the 
Avon, and the water within the shore of Weymouth. Originally tenured 
by secular canons, after a residence of thirty years they were ejected by 
K. Edgar, who installed Benedictines in their room. Ed. L gave the 



MIDDLETON ABBEY 107 

monks free warren throughout their demesnes. In the ensuing reign a 
disastrous fire through lightning is recorded, which destroyed the Church 
with all the muniments and charters. From the nave, it was thereupon 
handsomely rebuilt. William Middleton, Abbot temp. Ed. IV., is 
mentioned as a great benefactor of the fabric. 

The seal of the Abbey reproduced here was of two parts. Although 
the impression available for illustration is imperfect round the edges and 
has suffered otherwise, it affords a good idea as to the original design and 
the capacity of its executant. Obversely, it conveyed an elevation, m part 
section of the Abbey Churchy depicted with central and two side towers, 
each with a tall spire and two side turrets. Below the central tower and a 
trefoiled arch occurs a representation of the B. Virgin, crowned and 
enthroned, with the Divine Infant, nimbussed, sitting upon her left knee, 
holding an orb in her right hand, and beneath an arch, in either of the side 
towers, a full-length representation of an Abbot. On each side of the 
central spire is seen a censing angel; in the foreground an embattled 
wall, and at the apex, left of the central spire, a cross. 

* SIGILL' : CONUEN AN MIDELTONENSIS : 

£ . • • • L IE. 

Reversely, the design also comprehends an elevation, in part 

^^^-^^•^ section, viewed from a different aspect and presenting con- 

■^^- siderable variance with that of the obverse. Here, in the 

Sbal 80. centre of the facade, are two trefoiled arches which contain the 

" Annunciation " ; in that on the right stands the B. Virgin, in 
that on the left the Angel Gabriel, the figures being separated by a 
central shaft. Within a trefoiling, placed in the pediment, a bust is seen, 
probably designed for K. Athelstan, the founder. 
[PORTA : SAJLVTIS : AVE : P : TE : PATET : E[XITVS : 

A : VE.][VENIT: AB : EVA :] VE : VE : 6 : TOLLIS : AVE. 
An exemplification which possesses much that is in accord with, and also 
discloses conditions opposed to, true art. Compared with other instances of 
its style, it exhibits an inferiority, marked not as much by design as by 
defective workmanship. This comparative criticism notwithstanding, the 
seal is endued with considerable merit. In their conception, both schemes 
were well considered and fertile, whilst their depiction indicates a clever 
distribution of the elements which constitute their ornament. But in 
their execution is evident either a power of expression which needed that 
skill to present them delicately necessary for its completeness, or the same 
force handicapped by a want of patience and industry — inasmuch as the 
delineation of the figure of the angel Gabriel, as well as some of the 
architectural detail of the obverse, appears to indicate a high capacity, 
probably the latter. There is a lack of devotional ardour apparent and in 



io8 MONASTIC SEALS 

this perhaps lies the reason of the defect observed. As r^ards the 
obverse, as we have hinted, the architectural features are, generallj 
speaking, well conveyed ; but the drawing of those of the reverse is less 
meritorious. The figures of the first part are crudely delineated and 
vested, but those of the second, in both respects (particularly the angel) are 
much less so. Viewed entirely, both designs secure an indisputable richness 
of effect, and it will be well to remember that the state of the impression 
might obscure a greater delicacy of treatment than is now deducible. 

The whole of the domestic buildings, except the monks* hall, or 
refectory, were demolished a.d. 1771, and in their place a mansion, in which 
the hall is incorporated, now stands. This refectory is a fine structure, 
blazoned with the posthumous arms of K. Athelstan, with a roof and 
splendid screen of Irish oak. Upon the latter appears die date a.d. 1494, 
and the rebus of Abbot Middleton — a mill and a tun. 



MILVERTON, Chapel of S. Mary, 

CO. Somerset. 

The seal illustrated, from a remarkably fine impression, in 
^^ATE correspondence with this note is assigned to the ancient and 
XLII. once royal borough of Milverton with some hesitancy. That 

Seal 83. ^^ appertained to a Chapel of the B. Virgin at Milverton the 

legend explicidy states, but of such a sanctuary here there is 
now neither trace nor record. Neither, as far as we can gather, was any 
conventual establishment even founded within the parish. The absence, 
however, of such evidence does not weaken the assignment ; on the 
contrary, remembering that in the town a considerable woollen trade was 
done anciendy, which implied the existence of'people of substance in the 
district, and, moreover, that the reformers in most instances fulfilled their 
task of destruction only too well, we may accept the seal as evidence 
that once such a Chapel actually stood here. The town is beautifully 
situated amidst woodland scenery upon the western extremity of the 
vale of Taunton-Dean, and from this description we can assume its 
delightful surroundings. On the assumption of its existence, in its eternal 
eflfacement it is not alone. Coundess litde sanctuaries which rose up, 
concluded their hymns abrupdy and were swept away without leaving any 
trace. And here one of the values of seals finds illustration. The design 
of that under notice comprises a trefoiled arch, upheld by slender pillars 
and surmounted by a canopy resembling a Church of three towers, under 
which the B. Virgin, crowned, is enthroned, with the Child Jesus, 



MOTTESFONT PRIORY 109 

cruciformly nimbussed, on her left knee. The hands of both figures are 
raised in blessing. Below them, an ornamental aperture contains the head 
of a monk, and on either side of them, outside the niche, a spire topped by 
a cross rises from the throne. 

• . • SIGILL' • CAPELU • B'E : MARIE • DE : MILVERTON : 
A beautiful and intensely devotional instance this, quite a little Ave Maria. 
The design is exquisite but portrayed with a feeling in which religious 
fervour exceeded the measure of capacity. For it cannot be denied that 
the features of the B. Virgin exhibit a certain crudity (although those of 
the Child shew much that is excellent) and the figures some slight 
disproportion. Both, however, are commendably moddfled, well poised if 
somewhat disproportionate, and gracefully vested. The little face at the 
base wears an expression distinctly and unpardonably humorous. In efiFect 
the seal is highly artistic. 



MOTTESFONT, Austin Canons' Priory of the Holy Trinity, 

CO. Southampton. 

A SMALL foundation within the hundred of Thorngate, five 
PI^^E miles distant fi-om Stockbridge. "Mottesfont House,*' a 
XXVII. large and venerable mansion, in the erection of which the 
Seal C3. cellars and part of the cloister were incorporated, now stands 

upon the site. Intending to make the Church annexed 
collegiate, Hen. VIL obtained from Pope Alexander a Bull authorising its 
suppression. Changing his mind the King next decided to bestow it upon 
a hospital he proposed to erect at Windsor. Again altering his mind he 
gave it A.D. 1500 to the Abbot of Westminster, where he was raising his 
superb chapel. But the Abbot never took possession and the Priory 
continued until the Dissolution. It was founded, probably upon a Saxon 
foundation, temp. Will. II. by Ralph Flambard (then Prior of Christ 
Church and subsequently the famous Bishop of Durham), Richard de 
Ripariis, Earl of Devon, and William de Briwere for eleven canons. In 
the generosity of Eleanor, Queen of Ed. L, it largely participated but its 
estate was never one of consequence. The seal illustrated (from a fine 
impression) was not that employed by the house corporately, but by Henry, 
a Prior. Its design embraces the B. Virgin, with the Child nimbussed 
sitting upon her left knee, enthroned between two wavy sprigs, above a 
trefoiled arch which contains a representation of the Prior kneeling to the 
right in prayer. Upon the front the throne is diapered ; it has finials 
composed or dragons' heads. 



no MONASTIC SEALS 

S* FRATRIS • HENRICI • PRIORIS • DE • MOTESFONTE. 

A charming little specimen conceived and executed with much taste, 
delicacy, and feeling. Below the waist the figure of the Virgin is 
inaccurately drawn, as is that wholly of the Child, but in all other respects 
the theme is carefully and nicely treated. In effect the seal is rich and 
artistic. 



NEWBURGH, Austin Canons' Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. York. 

A HOUSE of the North Riding which, whilst it enjoyed 
P^ATK abbatial dignity had actually less pretensions. William de 
XLI. Newburgh, a famous historian, was a member. The Abbey 

Seal 8i. possessed a fair estate which lay chiefly in this county, but was 

distributed also over the dioceses of Durham and Lincoln. 
Its site lies in the parish of Coxwold and wapentake of Birdforth, about 
six miles from Thirske and within ** Newburgh Park/* In the erection of 
the manor house standing therein, a portion of the Abbey buildings was 
incorporated. Founded a.d. 1145 by Roger de Mowbray, who 
simultaneously endowed it and, later, annexed various Churches. All his 
donations, his son and grandson, Nigel and William, in turn confirmed. 
The seal of the house falling within our period and selected for 
reproduction here was the second employed by it. Somewhat chipped and 
very indistinct is the impression which has lent itself for illustration. 
Under a trefoiled canopy (in which are introduced three circular-headed 
niches, placed triangularly and containing as many heads) the design 
conveys the enthronement of the B. Virgin, crowned, holding in her right 
hand a sceptre fleury and supporting upon her left knee the Holy Child, 
who raises his hand in blessing, between two demi-angels censing which 
issue from the sides. Below a trefoiled arch in the hkse the full-length 
figure of a Prior occurs with two canons on either side of him. 

SIGILLVM A CTE • MARIE : DE NOVOB .... 

Although the state of the impression of this seal is such as to obviate a 
complete or fair appraisement of its art, crudity is here and there discernible 
with strength sufficient to justify its subordination to many of our series. 
It strikes us as a weak copy of a fine original. In intention the design 
would appear to have been good, but a delicate and striking effect, if aimed 
at, was not secured. The distribution of its ornament is ill-judged, 
consequently an ill-balanced result is presented. In its execution but 
moderate skill is evident. It was the work of a mechanic, not an artist. 



NEWENHAM PRIORY in 

It is not deficient altogether in merit, however. The grouping and 
delineation of the figures at the base — which influenced our selection of the 
seal for reproduction — ^have much that is artistic in their attempt, if not in 
their realization. 



NEWENHAM, Austin Priory of S. Paul, 

CO. Bedford. 

A WELL endowed house, of which there are now no 
* •'-^T^ architectural vestiges. It stood upon the river Ouse, in the 
XXXI. parish of Goldington, about a mile below the countjr town 
Seal 6i. '^^ ^^^^i ^^^ genesis of the Priory is traced. Before the 

Conquest, at Bedford, a secular college was erected for the 
administration of a Church raised in honour of S. Paul. Will. I. afterwards 
granted the barony to Paul de Beauchamp who built a strong castle 
adjoining the town. Some years subsequendy the Lady Roaisia, his wife, 
resolved upon the foundation of the house under notice, and the removal 
hither of the seculars of S. Paul. She did not effect this herself, but at her 
instance «her son, Simon Beauchamp (who was buried in S. Paul's, the 
principal Church of Bedford, before the high altar) in the reign of Hen. II. 
founded this Priory, also in honour of S. Paul, transferred the seculars and 
introduced the Augustinian rule. K. John made a considerable inroad 
upon its revenues, but by way of compensation. Hen. III., his son, gave it 
the Church of Tindene. Its possessions were almost confined to this 
county. The seal of the Priory was a dual arrangement. As the 
impression illustrated betokens, the designs of both parts voiced the 
dedication. Obversely, the scheme comprises an architectural fa9ade of 
three canopied niches, the central (which has a trefoiled arch) containing 
the enthronement of S. Paul, with sword and book, and those at the sides 
various supplicants. Over the canopy appear two demi-angels, and in the 
side niches a crescent and star respectively. 

*SIGILL* PRIORIS : ET : CONVENTVS : 

SCI : PAVLI : DE : NEWEHAM. 

The martyrdom of S. Paul is the theme of the reverse, a 
P^ATE subject probably unique in seal art. The scheme comprises an 
XXXI. architectural elevation, in part section, of conventional design 
Seal 62. which contains three niches. In the central, below the name 

^^ Paul " and a Divine Hand blessing, are seen S. Paul upon 
his knees and an executioner about to decapitate him. The sides niches 
each contain a full-length figure ; that on the left designed for ^^ Lucas** (?), 



112 MONASTIC SEALS 

that on the right for ^^ Titus '* (the Roman Emperor who subdued Judoea 
and destroyed Jerusalem) as the characters which appear above indicate. 
All three niches have triangular pediments with small trefoiled apertures, 
the central containing the race of a man with the word ** Roma ** in the 
field above. 

* MVCRO : FVROR : SAVLI : FVIT : ENSI[S : PAS]SIO : PAVLI. 
To what fineness the execution of this seal was raised the state of the 
impression is not such as to afibrd a complete indication, but that it 
attained at least a commendable degree is manifest. The designs of both 
parts are good, although that of the first is scarcely as well balanced as the 
other. Of the central figure of the obverse, the head bears a slightly false 
ratio to the body, but otherwise it is well delineated and nicdy vested. 
The little supplicants are cramped together, but the angels are drawn 
with admirable grace and feeling. As regards the architectural features 
these in both instances are good. And concerning the figures of the 
reverse there is much in evidence to suggest truthful and studious drawing 
and posture. In effect, the seal is a fine one. The house was for some 
time preceding its demolition used as a residence, by Sir Robert Catlin, 
Chief Justice of the King's Bench, who died in a.d. 1574. 



NEWMINSTER, Cistercian Abbey of S- Mary, 

CO. Northumberland. 

A ONCE resplendent house, possessed of a magnificent pile of 
"^j*^^^ buildings and originally an enormous estate. With other 
XXVIII. lands, at one time it owned the entire vale of Coquet above 
Seal 56. Rothbury, but before the Dissolution it was dispossessed 

largely, and rendered nigh destitute. Its situation was one of 
marked beauty. It stood upon the river Wansbeck (which, through a 
diversion created at Mitford, entirely surrounded it) in the parish of 
Morpeth — ^anciently " Moorpath," expressive of the primary location of the 
town, upon a woodland road. The Abbey dated from c. a.d. i 137. After 
the Conquest the barony of Morpeth was granted to William de Merlais, 
who raised a castle within it. Whilst sojourning at the Cistercian Abbey 
of Fountains Sir Ranulph de Merlais, his descendant, was so impressed 
with the virtues of the monks that he resolved to establish a similar house 
within his domain. Accordingly, he and his wife Julian (daughter of 
Gospatric, Earl of Northumberland) about the year mentioned founded, 
half a mile west of the castle, the house under notice, which they endowed 
and filled with Cistercians from Fountains. Roger, the first Abbot, 



NORTHAMPTON HOSPITAL 113 

was afterwards canonized as "S. Robert of Newminster"; John of Tyne- 
mouth was his biographer. Morpeth in Saxon times was a place of no note, 
but through the castle and Abbey it derived expansion and prosperity. The 
Abbot) ten^. Ed. I. was summoned to a Parliament at Carlisle ; this sovereign, 
as weU as the two following Edwards, stayed at the Abbey. From thence, 
with a decaying estate and a gradual diminution of dignity and influence, 
the house continued until the surrender. 

Of the seal of the Abbey, a very fine impression is available for reproduc- 
tion. The design exhibits a sculptured niche (with pointed arch, surmounted 
by a canopy pinnacled and crocketted, and masoned buttresses at the sides) 
containing the enthronement of the crowned Virgin patroness, who hands a 
ball to the Holy Child sitting upon her left knee. Beneath is a carved arch, 
(elaborated with tiny trefoilings in the spandrils and inscribed with the opening 
of the Angelic Salutation — Ave Maria) in which the Abbot is depicted at 
half-length in prayer, with pastoral staff. In the field near the Abbot are a 
star and crescent, on either side of the niche is ^ifleur^-lisy and below it a 
crescent enclosing a star — ^all symbols of the B. Virgin. 

S' COE AlBlS : ET • COVENTVS : SCE : MARIE : DE NOVO : 

MONASTERIO. 
Whilst the devotional fervour of this instance is undeniable, its artistic claims 
are neither great nor numerous. Its conception is simple, and good (the 
designer thoroughly grasped the spirit of childhood — ^the Virgin and Child 
at pky, it is clear, was what was intended) and its execution, save in the most 
important respect, possesses considerable excellence. Its obvious defect Is 
in the delineation of the figures ; the Virgin is not particularly ill-drawn, 
but the Child is quite in caricature, whilst the facial limning of both is very 
crude. As r^ards posture, modelling, and draping the Mother is treated 
with some aptitude, as is no less the little statuette at the base. 

The foundations of the Abbey may yet be completely traced, but all that 
now remains of the superb edifice is a low Gothic arch, with a fragment of wall 
adjoining (shaded by a large sycamore) and a piece of the Chapter-house roof. 



NORTHAMPTON, Hospital of 88. John the Baptist and 

Evangelist, co. Northampton. 

One of the three ancient Hospitals which, with several purely 
*^-^^^ monastic institutions, were founded in the borough. It was 
^" erected near the south gate, and as a public charity it continues 

Seal 99. under altered conditions to this day. In the year a.d. i 137 it 

was founded by Walter, Archdeacon of Northampton, for 
poor and infirm persons and placed upon the patronage list of the 



1 14 MONASTIC SEALS 

prelates of Lincoln. At any time it would not appear to have possessed 
a very large estate. Perhaps it daily drew upon public generosity for 
completely fulfilling the founder's object 

The seal of the Hospital, illustrated from an admirable impression, 
belongs apparently to a very early date within our period. It displays 
beneath two round-headed arches, divided by a slender shaft and 
surmounted by a thatched roof and turret, the figures of S. John the 
Baptist standing on the right and turning to the left, holding in his dexter 
hand a staff, with his sinister indicating an Agnus Dei depicted within a 
plaque, and S. John the Evangelist standing on the left, towards the 
right, carrying in his dexter hand a book — ^his Gospd. In the base a 
crescent encloses a wavy star of eight points. The legend : — 

+ SIGILL • HOSPITAL* • S . . . lOHIS BAPTISTE ET • S • • I 

EWANG • DE • NORHAMT. 

is exhibited upon a bevelled edge. Although largely condemned, particularly 
by obvious facial crudities, this quaint and peculiar exemplification is not 
wholly reprehensible. On the contrary, with its defects it must be admitted 
to possess considerable character and to exhibit some skilful delineation. 
There is latent about the figures, which are well disposed and far from 
badly draped, an undeniable quality of drawing and the eflect secured, 
though gready marred by the blemishes marked, is neither inartistic nor 
unpleasing. 

The Hospital (a Decorated building) and the Chapel (late Decorated 
with a Perp. window) annexed still stand and are in the possession of the 
Roman Catholics. Many of those who fell in the batde of Northampton 
were buried in the Church-yard attached. 



NORWICH, Benedictine Priory of The Holy Trinity, 

CO. Norfolk. 

A FAMOUS, influential, and well-endowed institution— one of 
*.^j*^^ twenty monastic establishments which anciendy stood in the 
XXXIII. ^j^ — erected simultaneously with the removal of the East 
Seal 6 c. Anglian bishopric here, ana designed for the ministration of 

the Cathedral. This building was situated upon the south 
side of that splendid structure which serves, although a glorious one, almost 
as the sole monument of this once august house. Founded by Herbert 
de Lozinga, first Bishop of Norwich. The circumstances which incited 
its foundation are of peculiar interest and pathos. In a.d. 1071 the 
episcopal seat of East Anglia was removed to Thetford ; when it became 



NORWICH PRIORY 115 

vacant in a.d. 1091 Herbert, Abbot of the famous Abbey of Ramsey, 
fastened upon it covetous eyes and ambitious desires. He possessed 
considerable wealth, and negotiated with Rufus its purchase for himself 
and the abbacy of Hyde (see Hyde p* 91) for his father. Thus the 
Abbot of Ramsey sinned. Both simonical preferments occasioned the 
greatest indignation among the clergy, and conseauently much odium was 
levelled at the Bishbp. Heedless at first, mdually he came to recognize 
the gravity of his offence, and ultimately stncken with remorse for it. He 
went to Rome, laid the insignia of his office at Urban*s feet and confessed 
his crime, libe Pope, affected by the Bishop's repentance and humble 
submission, pardonea and reinvested him, at the same time enjoining a 
penance of which the Cathedral and Priory formed part of the issue. On 
returning to England, with the consent of the Pope, Bishop Herbert 
transferred his episcopal seat to Norwich. He purchased a site under the 
great fortress, just then constructed by Rufus and in a.d. 1096 laid the 
foundations of the Church and domestic offices. In September a.d. iioi 
he settled by deed the possessions of both. By that year the Priory 
had almost reached completion, and in it he placed sixty monks under 
the priorate of Ingulphus. Thus the Bishop of Norwich atoned, in part, for 
the sin of the Abbot of Ramsey. He laboured assiduously in advancing 
the Cathedral but did not live to see it completed. Late in the next 
century the structure suffered considerably through an accidental fire. 
John of Oxford, Bishop of Norwich, restored and finished it. The 
relations which subsisted between the citizens and monks were for long 
decidedly hostile. This deplorable state of aflfairs arose from a controversy 
adverting to the exercise of the liberties embraced in their charter by the 
citizens within the Priory precincts. Ralph, Abbot of Ramsey, William of 
York, and Henry de Bathe, with others, a.d. 1239 essayed to adjust these 
differences and failing to do so. Hen. III. came in person to Norwich to 
pronounce upon them. The liberties of the Priory anticipated in date 
those of the city, so a ruling was immediately made in ravour of the 
monks. But notwithstanding, from thence for a long time the annals 
of both the civic and ecclesiasiastic corporations are tarnished with the 
records of many fierce and sanguinary conflicts. In one, a.d. 1272, the 
Priory was burnt, and the Cathedral severely damaged. Several of 
Ingulphus's successors passed to the episcopate of Norwich. 

The seal illustrated here was the second created for the uses of the 
house. On account of its merits it is more than satisfactory to be able 
to reproduce a singularly fine impression. A dual contrivance, it dates 
firom A.D. 1258. Obversely, the design exhibits, partly in elevation and 
partly in section, a building, to a partial extent conventional, doubtless 
intended for the Cathedral — a Church here depicted with profuse carving 



ii6 MONASTIC SEALS 

(in which arcades, stringcourses and pediments are liberally introduced) 
with three towers, each with pinnacles and spires which rise above the 
roof-line. Under the central tower, within a porch mth pointed arch 
(trefoiled upon the inside), stands Bishop Herbert at fiiU length, his right 
hand raised in benediction, his left supporting a pastoral stafi^ with the 
l^nd Herberius Fundator inscribed upon a plinth below. An arcade 
which traverses the structure, level with the centre of the figure, contains 
within separate sections the heads of six monks. On either side of the 
central spire, at the apex of the scheme, the figure of a censing Angel is 
seen descending from Heaven. Upon the dexter side, over a transept, 
occurs a sun with wavy radiations ; upon the sinister, over another, a 
crescent enclosing a star. The birth place of Herbert de Lozinga is 
unknown, but probability inclines to Hoxne, Suffolk. When a boy he 
was sent to Normandy for his education. He became a monk, and 
in due time Prior of Ficamp Abbey, from whence he was called to the 
Abbacy of Ramsey. With a final setdement of the prolonged and vexed 
contention concernit^ investiture in view, he accompanied Archbishop 
Ralph d*£scures of Canterbury to Rome. As he was returning he was 
stricken with a malady to which three years later he succumbed. His 
body was laid before the high altar and his statue appears over the door of 
the north transept. A Church at Yarmouth, two others at Norwich, one 
at Elmham and another at Lynn likewise owe their erection to his 
splendid expiation. 

: + SIGILLVM : ECCLESIE : SANCTE : TRINITATIS : 

NORWICI. 

Reversely, the design sustains another elevation, in part section, . 
^**^^ of a building also, no doubt, intended for the Cathedral but J 
XXXIII. viewed from a different aspect. It differs very lai^ly from F 
Seal 66. ^^^ illustrated upon the obverse, is more lofty and minutely | 

delineated, and apparently possesses the conventional in a 
larger degree. Here the Church exhibits a roof of three gables, the 
central with a pediment, and a fa9ade composed of numerous windows, 
terraces of arches, and other apertures of varying shape. In the centre is | 

a doorway formed by a circular-headed arch with two pointed arches 
(having trefoiled heads), divided by a central pillar and, above, a double- 

3uatrefoil window. To convey the Annunciation, within the sectioned 
oorway stand the figures of the B. Virgin and the Angel Gabriel with 
Ave Maria fitly inscribed on the plinth below, and in the window above 
(separated from the porch bv a Gothic arcade) appears the half-length 
figure of Our Lord with uplifted Hands. Gazing through four apertures, 
as upon the obverse, here as many monks heads are visible, in line with the . 
architecture between the double-quatrefoil window and the doorway, and ' 



NORWICH PRIORY 117 

on either side of the central gable, above the roof, two doves, emblematic 
of the Holjr Spirit — ^the patron. 

EST • MICHI : NVMEN : IDEM • TRIBVS • VNI : LAVS : 

HONOR : IDEM. 
ET : BENEDICO : GREGI : FAMVLATVR : QVI : MICHI ; 

REGL 
A third legend, the following, appeared upon complete impressions : — 
ANNO : DOMINI : MILLESIMO : DVCENTESIMO : 
QVINQVAGESIMO : OCTAVO : FACTVM : EST . HOC : 

SIGILLVM. 
Of our series, of our period, indeed of the art as a whole which we are 
considering, the famous seal here in contemplation constitutes one of the 
finer gems. Neither in apprehension, design, nor execution has it to 
yield to any standard of magnificence or beauty except the very 
superlative. As an object of art, of its own or any order (save architectural 
instances) within its epoch — ^as an object of art of its kind in any 
phase of time — unsurpassed for exquisiteness, it may well be joined with 
certain other exemplifications here illustrated. It is pregnant with the 
fervid Gothic spirit which animated its creation ; in itself it summarizes 
the aspirations of that perception, reflects to a large extent its achievements, 
and moreover presents both aim and result in abstract and convincing 
form. Briefly, in it we have illustrated the essence of Gothic feeling, 
and by it our attention is irresistibly drawn to that sensibility and 
fascinated by it. Throughout the mind of the artist who bequeathed 
the seal to us— -of the nature of whom the governing ideal of his age 
formed an inseparable part — ^loveliness absolutely reigned. The extent of 
this we can only partially fiithom through the visible evidence of his work 
but from what is invisible, the pervading essence, we can deduce the rest. 
He was an artist and what, to a few of us at least, is more, a Gothic artist. 
For seven centuries his praises have been silent, so that we may well sing 
them now. In conception the designs are grand and singularly ornate. 
Although they pay some deference to convention, they display a treatment 
which strived not to escape conventional limitations, but to exploit and 
develope their possibilities to the uttermost. That in this the artist succeeded 
we have only to scan the wealth of gracefid detail to convince us. As regards 
capacity for execution, this the designer enjoyed to a high degree, for the 
seal is magnificently engraved with marked delicacy and skill. Of both 
schemes the architectural ornament afibrds the finest feature. In either 
case it is deeply studied and richly laboured, but, whilst the reverse exhibits 
the more abundant illustration, it is the obverse which secures the best eflect. 
Upon an examination of this seal we cannot but deplore those changes of 
time and circumstances which have rendered the use of seals almost 



ii8 MONASTIC SEALS 

obsolete, since they involved the decline of an art of which it is such a 
strikine; example. 

Twenty years after the accession of Hen. VIIL, the Priorship fell into 
the evil hanas of William Castleton who, foreseeing what was about to 
pass, secured himself by alienating some of the possessions of the house. 
In A.D. 1538, Hen. VIII. suppressed the monastery and created a new 
Chapter, of which the Prior was appointed Dean. At this time the Priory 
seal, which the Chapter continued to employ, suffered mutilation. The 
scene of the ** Annunciation '" was hacked away, and a shield inserted 
which blazoned or, a cross sa, within a bordure invected — ^an enhancement 
of the Priory arms (now those of the Chapter) which were merely ar, 
a cross sa. In its second state the seal was used for twenty years, when 
Dean Gardiner removed the representation of Our Lord in the double- 
quatrefoil window of the reverse, and inserted in its place the letters 
"E.C.N.*' {Ecclesie Catbedralis Norvoict)^ substituted for the l^end 
another and placed the initials of his surname twice in the field. In its 
final state the seal continued to be, and is to this day used by the Dean 
and Chapter. 



Hospital of S. Giles. 

Another religious foundation of the "City of Churches' 
^J~^^ Norwich, by reason of its sixty sanctuaries, was anciently 
XXIX. styled — and one which continues to the present as a public 
Seal C7. charity. Founded a.d. 1249 ^7 Walter de Suffield, Bishop of 

Norwich, upon a site he acquired in Holm Street, for the 
support of poor and enfeebled ecclesiastics of the diocese and thirteen 
indigent persons, and governed by statutes which he framed. The Bishop 
endowed it with certain messuages in the city and various Churches, later 
with another Church, and finalTy by will with 300 marks, the gilt cup of 
S. Edmund, and the reversion of a lease of some land with two ploughs 
thereon. Moved by the prelate's example, several burgesses made it the 
subject of their generosity. William of Dunwich by his gifts largely 
assisted the Bishop in the foundation, whilst others made presents of lands 
and rents. Later, too, considerable gifts were received. About the 
early part of the fifteenth century it contained a master, deacon, sub- 
deacon, eight chaplains, seven choristers, four sisters, eight bedridden 
paupers, thirteen other poor people, four lay brothers and several poverty 
stricken clerics, travellers and pilgrims. A return made a century 
afterwards shews that alms were annually distributed, on the feast of the 
Annunciation, to one hundred and eighty persons, whilst twenty paupers 



OSENEY ABBEY 119 

prayed here daily for the soul of Bishop Goldwell. Our illustration, of 
the seal of the Master and Brethren, is drawn from a good impression. 
In design, it exhibits S. Giles nimbussed and seated before a tree with a 
fawn, wounded by an arrow, leaping up to him, above a circular-headed 
arch which contains a cross pattie surmounted by a mitre. The l^end 
which a3SOciates the fawn with S. Giles (also illustrated previously; see 
Kypier Hospital p. 96) is recounted in our Introduction (p. 25). Of his 
patronage of the woodland, the tree speaks, and of the episcopal origin of 
the Hospital, the mitre. 

+ S* • MAGRl • Z • FRM • HOSPITAU SCI • EGIDII • DE • 

NORWIC 
A pictorial example of some beauty, emphasized largely by the charming 
story conveyed. The conception of the scheme is distinctly pretty, its 
setting admirable, whilst its execution reveals much delicacy. But the state 
of the impression disallows an estimate of the complete merits of the seal. 
That it was essentially artistic is patent. 

In the reign or Ed. VL the Church was made parochial under the 
title of S. Helen's, and subsequent superiors styled ^* Chaplains of the 
parishioners of S. Helen's and of the poor of God's house." Long after 
if was converted into an almshouse and Chapel, and continues thus. 
Interesting portions of the original architecture are visible. 



OSENEY, Austin Canons' Abbey of S. Mary, 

CO. Oxford. 

A MAGNIFICENT housc, founded as a Priory but which soon 
w:^y reached the higher dignity. From the erection of the 

XXV. bishopric of Oxford until the removal of the seat to the city 

Seal 49. ^^ ^^^ name, the Church which adjoined ranked as a 

Cathedral. The Lady Chapel within it was the end of a 
pilgrimage ; to all who visited, or gave to it Rotherham, Archbishop of 
York, granted forty days indulgence. The Abbey stood upon the 
southern border of the county, on an islet formed by the river Isis, 
and the circumstances which moved its inception were not altogether 
unromantic. After the Conauest, the baronies of Oxford and Saint 
Waleries were granted by K. William to one of his Norman partizans, Robert 
D'Oylly, who erected a castle in the city. This, with the barony, descended 
to his nephew, Robert D'Oylly, chamberlain of Hen. I. who wedded, at 
the instance of his sovereign, Edith, a favoured mistress of that monarch. 
Whilst she resided at her husband's castle Edith, in company with a 



I20 MONASTIC SEALS 

gentlewoman, was accustomed to take walks about the grounds. One day 
she was attracted to a certain spot by the chirping of some birds who, it 
seemed to her, spoke some message she was ynable to interpret. And as 
often as she visited it did the birds gather there and attempt to make her 
understand* Wondering, she informed Radulphe, her confessor (a canon 
of S. Frideswide's Oxford), who counselled that it was clearly desired of 
her that she should establish, where the birds collected, a religious house. 
At his wife's request, Robert D'Ovlly accordingly, a.d. i 129, founded not a 
great distance from the castle the mstitudon under notice and endowed it 
kr^dy. Twenty years after he made further important donations, which 
induded the estate of the collegiate chapel which his unde had founded 
within the castle. 

The second seal of the Abbey is that here illustrated. A remarkably 
fine impression enables us to present an admirable reproduction. The 
scheme conveys a canopied and crocketted niche (with trefoiled arch), with 
pinnaded buttresses at the sides, under which the B. Virgin, crowned, 
sits enthroned, with the Holy Child, cruciformly nimbussed, upon one 
knee, and an orb in her right hand. Below the platform is a Norman 
arch, arcaded on either side, which contains, in allusion to the neighbouring 
city, an ox passant guardant. And along the plinth of the niche appears 
the inscription De Oxonia. 

SIGILLVM ABBATIS ET CONVENTUS ECCLESIE SANCTE 

MARIE DE OSENEYA. 
A fine and powerful illustration of the art we are contemplating, the merits 
of which, though the sc^lacks that touch of artistic genius which makes 
for the superlative, are of^ a very high order. It is the work of an artist 
no less devout than gifted, a work of simple and chaste conception, 
delineated with unquestionable capaci^ in the full glow of religious feeling. 
In its art, elsewhere as we have noticed more cocalted, it is perfect — ^to 
mar the scheme not a false or exaggerated line or curve is visible — ^and the 
excellent rdief in which the scheme is presented yidds a rich sculptural 
eflfect as pleasing as it was deverly devised. Extremdy lucid and good is 
the architectural work. And to an extent singular, since the buttresses, in 
true perspective, are placed some distance behind the fa9ade itsdf. The 
figure of the B. Virgin is well modelled and drawn, and no less gracefully 
postured and draped, whilst her features are not without some expression 
of tenderness, an emotion much enhanced by the disposition of the figure. 
As striking as it is beautiful is the result of the whole. 

Architecturally, but little remains of this house. An arched window 
with a small Dart of the walls summarizes it. Edith was buried upon the 
north side of^ the high altar of the Church and on the arch over her tomb 
the legend of the birds was painted. 



OXFORD FRIARY 121 

OXFORD, Carmelite Friary, of S. Mary, 

CO. Oxford. 

An important foundation, instituted to partly satisfy the 
* ^-^ * E aspirations of the Carmelites to have a seat of learning both at 
XXXVII. Oxford and Cambridge. Located in the famous Castle of 
Seal 74. Beaumont, erected by Hen. I. (where Rich. I. was born), on 

the western side of the city. About fifteen years after the 
arrival of the order in England, the Provincial obtained from Nicholas 
Meules (erstwhile Constable of the Casde) a residence in Stockwell 
Street for a few of its members, and not long after, assisted by the 
Constable, Richard, Earl of Cornwall, and Ela, Countess of Warwick he 
raised upon a site which a wealthy citizen (Nicholas Stockwell) gave, a 
friary and chapel. In this century there lived a Carmelite friar, Robert 
Baston, who surpassed his contemporaries in poetical power. He was a 
great £ivourite with Ed. L, and when the King went to fight the Scots 
he went with him to chronicle the doughty deeds of his sovereign. By 
Ed. 11. the friar-poet was equally esteemed, and he accompanied him also 
to the field. After the batde of Stirline;, when at the hands of the Scots 
under Robert Bruce the English suffered defeat, the King stood in 
considerable danger from his enemies. The friar guaranteed his eiscape if 
he recommended himself to the B. Virgin and made her a vow. 
K. Edward did so, promising on a safe return to England to erect a house 
for the order to which Robert belonged. The King safely escaped, but 
the friar was seized by the Scots. Upon his liberation he reminded 
Edward of his vow, whereupon the King assigned to the Oxford 
Carmelites the palace of Beaumont whither, about sixty years after their 
entry into the city, they were transferred. There were other and many 
benefactors besides Ed. IL 

The matrix of the Friary seal being yet extant, we are enabled to 
reproduce a direct impression. Above an arch, with carved spandrils, 
which contains an ox passing a ford (in allusion to the city), the design 
conveys upon the dexter side a full-length representation of Hen. III. 
curiously dad in a tabard of the royal arms of England, crowned, holding 
a sceptre in the left hand, and in his right hand a Church which he awards 
to three friars ; upon the sinister side, another, of the B. Vii^n, patroness 
of the order, crowned, with the Holy Child on her left arm. Over the 
head of the Virgin is a star, and at her feet a growing lily — both details 
emblematic of her. _ 

S^ COMVNE • FRATRV • ORDlS • BE • MARIE • DE CARMELO • 

OXONIE. 
An exemplification both quaint and mteresting, which tells its story 



122 MONASTIC SEALS 

graphically. The theme is in every sense real, skilfully conceived and, if 
drawn with only qualified technique, expressed with more than average 
ability, since with the grouping no fault can be found. As regards the 
figures themselves, whilst the mmor are somewhat crude and stiff that of 
the Virgin is well drawn and nicely draped, and in that of the King there 
also lies some artistic virtue. The features of the latter alone are clear and 
these shew at least accurate portrayal. At the Dissolution several portions 
of the building were destroyed and the firagments sold. For a while the 
refectory was preserved and used as a poor-house, but scarcely any vestiges 
are to l>e seen now. 



PETERBOROUGH, Benedictine Abbey of S. Peter, 

CO. Northampton. 

^^Peterborough the proud'' — ^as it was anciently styled. A 
^^^T-^ ST^^ ^^^ magnificent house, the first raised in central 
XXXIX. England, and one of the more important of the land Its estate 
Seal 77. ^'^^^ ^^^» ^^^ privileges were unique and many. The Abbot, 

who was mitred, sat in Parliament and took precedence of all 
others above the Thames. The Abbey stood upon the north side of the 
river Nen, and its glorious Church (famed throughout Europe, chiefly 
on account of its superb portico) yet flourishes as the Githedral of the 
Diocese. To it the Pope conceded this signal favour, that whosoever 
vowed a pilgrimage to Rome but was reasonably prevented and visited it 
would derive the same spiritual advantages. Thus the Abbey became 
famous ; for centuries it was, in a measure, identified with the Chair of 
S. Peter and regarded as the Rome of England. So great indeed was its 
sancti^ considered, that all who sought admission to the Church (no 
matter of what degree) cast off their shoes at the gateway, deeming that 
within veritably holy ground. The unhappy Catherine or Aragon found 
there a stately tomb, IC Hen. so far regarding her dying request : — 

'' . • • When I am dead .... 
** Let me be used with honour.'' 

And for this reason, after the rest of the monasteries had fallen Peter- 
borough was for a time reserved. Originally the site of the Abbey and 
until the time of K. Edgar, was known as Medeshamsted (Meadow 
homestead), but afterwards named Burch, or Burg and because of the 
Abbey ^^ Peter-borough.'* The foundation was commenced by K. Peada 
c. A.D. 650, and completed by his successor Wulphere (who endowed 
it with over four hundred square miles of land), Ethelred, his younger 



PETERBOROUGH ABBEY 123 

brother, and his sisters Kyneburga (Queen of Alfred of Northumbria) and 
Kyneswitha. The monastery a.d. 870 was totally destroyed by the Ehines, 
and for a century lay in ruins. In the reign or K. Edgar it was restored 
by Bishop Athelwold of Winchester (in compliance with an instruction 
received during a vision), assisted by the King and Adulfus, the royal 
chancellor, upon a scale of great magnificence — the Church in intense 
beauty — ^and in it a society or Benedictines was placed. K. Edgar ratified 
all its original rights, re-endowed it with all its ancient estate and enlarged it 
by gifts of money and land. The Chancellor having accidentally provoked 
the death of his son contemplated a pilgrimage to Rome, but was 
p>ersuaded instead to join in this restoration. Of the new foundation he 
became Abbot, and afterwards Archbishop of York. The library and 
revenues were largely augmented by Abbot Kenulfus, and ^Isinus 
procured for his Abbey a much-prized relic — the right arm of S. Oswald. 
Abbot Leofricus, who held five other Abbeys concurrently with this, 
assisted in making it one of the wealthier of houses. At Hastings he 
fought upon the English side. Hen. VI. granted a fair of six days. 
From the Conquest to the end the fortunes of the Abbey varied. The 
illustration given in relation to this note is that of the second corporate 
seal of the Abbey — a dual example — supplied by an impression which, 
although fine, woidd have been rendered of greater value by a little more 
definition in its detail. Obversely, the scheme of the design comprises, 
upon a boat (with a figure-head of an animal at either end) delineated 
length-wise above waves, an arcading of three trefoiled niches, each with 
a pmnaded and crocketted canopy. In the central niche is a full-length 
representation of S. Paul, holding erect in his right hand a sword by the 
point, and in his left a book. In that on the right another, also at 
full-length, of S. Peter with keys and book, and in that upon the left a 
third, also at full-length, of S. Andrew with cross and book. Over the 
canopies, and on the left of the field the initial *^ R." is thrice introduced, 
and on the right the letter ^< F."' also. The barque symbolizes the Christian 
Church. Originally, S. Peter stood alone in the patronage of the Abbey. 
In A.D. 1237 Cardinal Otho, the Papal Legate, summoned a council in 
London which decreed that all Churches, however ancient, not consecrated 
with holy oil should be so sanctified. Accordingly, Peterborough was 
rededicated to S. Peter and consecrated to SS. Paul and Andrew by the 
Bishops of Lincoln and Exeter in that year. This circumstance accounts 
for the occurrence of the three Apostles, and places the date of the seal 
subsequent to the year a.d. 1237. The initial letter ^•R.," it may be, 
stands for Robert de Sutton, who was Abbot from a.d. 1262 to 1274, and 
upon this assumption it may be assigned to the period of his abbacy. 
As to the initial '^ F.**, we can offer no explanation. 



124 MONASTIC SEALS 

* : SIGN VM : BVRGENSE : CRVCE : CLAVE : FVLGET : ET : 

ENSE. 

Reversely, the scheme comprises^ in the first pkce^ an 

\^^^^ architectural facade of a heavier and somewhat varied 

XXXIX. character. It exhibits a terrace of three niches, each pinnaded. 

Seal 78. crocketted and with a poppy-head finial, the central, the 

larger, haidng an ogee arch. Within the chief, S. Peter, in 
this instance depicted with a tiara, sits enthroned, holding the keys in his 
right hand as customarily, and in his left, what is unusual for him, a Latin 
cross, with his feet resting upon an animal symbolic of the Evil One, 
near which is the head of a king, doubtless intended for one of the 
royal founders. In the niche upon the dexter side stands the figiu-e of an 
Abbot, with staff and book, (either Saxulfus, the first AbTOt of the 
first foundation, or Adulfus, the first of the second), and in that upon the 
sinister is placed an altar upon which a chalice, covered by a corponde, rests 
beneath a sanctuary lamp. The sides of the fi^ade are buttre^ed ; at the 
top, the arms of the Abbey, two keys in saltire upon a shield, are repeated ; 
and below the plinth runs a cusping, under which occur several quatrefbils. 
: TV : PRO : ME : NAVEM : LigUISTI : SVSCIPE : CLAVEM : 
One of the more ornate and richer monastic seals of the type evinced by 
Ely, Glastonbury, and some others but with certain peculiarities and 
distinctive points of interest. Although of unequal merit, both schemes 
are admirable. In their conception the Gothic spirit, which finds 
expression in the wealth of their illustration, is seen in active exercise. 
Both symbolize and summarize it. The qualities of the obverse are much 
in excess of those of the reverse both as regards design and delineation. 
There is a grace of idea and delicacy of execution about the first which the 
second lacks. The lines of the barque are elegant, the waves realistic 
and both skilfully drawn, whilst the architecture reveals much care and 
study. As regards the figures, all three are well described, naturally 
disposed, and variedly ana nicely apparelled but their features are not 
sufficiently lucid in the impression to warrant a definite opinion concerning 
the capacity involved in their limning. The effect of the scheme is 
intensely artistic. In the ogee arch and poppy-head finial of the 
architecture of the reverse we have unusual features. The disposition of 
the remaining ornament here leaves nothing to be desired but, as we have 
hinted, in the execution of the scheme as a whole the refinement exhibited 
in the obverse is wanting. S. Peter is very well proportioned, but 
not quite easily disposed. The little Abbot is commendably treated, and 
the minor ornament laudably presented, and notwithstanding our higher 
criticism the result, although not so eminent as the first part, is very 
artistic. As a whole the seal is a superb work of its kind and period 



RAMSEY ABBEY 12 s 

RAMSEY, Benedictine Abbey of S. Mary, All Virgins, and 

S. Benedict, co Huntingdon. 

A MiTRBD house of great wealth and magnificence, famed for its 
^y^^*^ scholarship (many Abbots and monks having possessed con- 
•^^^^ siderable talent and learning) and for its fine library. It stood 

Seal 90. ^^ ^^ upper end of the town, towards the south, a litde distance 

from the Church, which still continues. Founded a.d. 969, by 
Ail wine, Alderman of All England and Duke or Earl of the East Angles, at 
the instance of Oswald, Archbishop of York. Three years later the monks 
went into occupation; in the fifth, S. Dunstan, Archbishop of Canterbury 
and Archbishop Oswald dedicated the Church. The first Abbot, iEdnoth, 
became Bishop of Dorchester and was slain by the Danes. K. Edgar confirmed 
the foundation, and Edward the Confessor gave, with others privileges, the 
right of sanctuary. The Abbot sat in Parliament. Two cells were attached 
to the Abbey, the estates of which were distributed over many counties. 
Hen. I. gave a fiiir ; he, Hen. II., Rich. L, and K. John issued to it many 
charters. In the time of Hen. I. the Church was rebuilt. During the 
wars of Stephen, Geofilrey de Mandeville expelled the monks and garrisoned 
the Abbey. In a skirmish before it he was slain by an arrow, alone. 
Abbot AUsius (a.d. 1080) is reputed to have originated the Feast of the 
Immaculate Conception. Because the monks refused to appoint the Prior 
of Fountains Abbot, K. John kept the Abbey in his own hands for seven 
years, and in a.d. 1285, Ed. III. is said to have obtained forcibly one half of 
Its revenues. Queen Isabella, a.d. 1309, spent nearly three weeks here. 
The seal selected for illustration, derived from a chipped but otherwise good 
impression, was that of Abbot Richard, a. d. i 2 i 4- i 2 i 6. He was Abbot of 
Selby, and was appointed to Ramsey by the procurement of Nicholas, Bishop 
of Tusculum, Cardinal and Legate. The scheme conveys S. Benedict seated 
on a throne, holding in his left hand a pastoral staff, and delivering 
another to a %ure> probably intended for ^dnoth, who, bending, is about 
to receive it. The feet of the chief figure rest upon a crouching fiend. 

RICARDI : DEI : GRACIA : ABBA[T]IS : SANCTT : 

BENEDICTI : DE : RAMMES 

Had our artist only grappled a litde more successftdhr with questions of 
anatomical expression and proportion the result of his work under 
criticism would have deserved a much higher appraisement than, in 
consequence of his defection in this regard, we are enabled to bestow upon 
it. In apprehension and design the seal is distincdy ^ood, but as a fine 
work of art it is marred by a serious inaccuracy visible in the drawing 
of S. Benedict. It constitutes neverthdess a striking, as well as a 
remarkable example, the merits of which are as obvious as its defects. 



126 MONASTIC SEALS 

The Church, which is dedicated to S. Thomas a Becket, is a spacious 
building, chiefly transition Norman to E.E. ; the carving, scheme, and 
variety of the columns and capitals are beautiful. It has a tower, erected 
from stones of the Abbey. In the adjoining Churchyard are a few remains 
of the domestic structure, which consist principally of a fine gateway and 
porter's lodge, with a beautiful turret, a small oriel, and a few buttresses. 



SALBURN, Cell or Chapel of S. Michael, 

CO Hertford. 

This litde erection stood upon the river Rib, eight miles 
^^y^ north-east of Hertford, in the village and ancient market town 

XLIV. Qf Standon. About the time of Hen. I., William, an 

Seal 87. anchorite, erected a hermitage here which Richard de Clare, 

Earl of Hertford, appears to have extended and endowed and 
annexed as a Cell to Stoke-by-Clare, Suffolk. How long the monastic 
character of the institution remained it is impossible to say, but at a very 
early time the Church of S. Michael, attached to the Cell, became a secuk^ 
free Chapel, the gift of which was vested in the Earl of March. The seal 
presented is either that of the Cell or Chapel. Our illustration is derived 
from a perfect and modern impression taken from the matrix, which, 
although every vestige of the structure has disappeared, has been preserved. 
The scheme presents the dedicatory, delineated fas is usual) standing on a 
dragon (the symbol of heresy, vice and every form of evil), piercing its 
head with a long cross held obliquely. 

*S' DOMVS SCI MICAELIS D' SALEBVRNE. 
This little instance has no great pretensions towards the artistic. It is 
weak and suffers upon comparison with other of our lesser examples. 
However it is far from devoid of merit. Some charm and character it 
possessses, and in its designer reveals a latent faculty for artistic conception. 



SELBORNE, Austin Priory of S. Mary, 

CO Southampton. 

A MINOR house which stood about four miles and a half south 
*^L^TJ^ east by south from Alton. Of its buildings there are now no 
XLIV. distinct remains. Magdalen College, Oxford, now enjoys the 

Seal 88. estate it once possessed. Founded a.d. 1233, in honour of 

the B. Virgin, by Peter des Roches, Bishop of Winchester, 
whose charter is preserved by the College. The founder, a Poitevcn 



SOUTH WICK PRIORY 127 

who had served in France under K. Rich, and been knighted by him, 
possessed the unenviable distinction of being a favourite of K. John. In 
the contest between that King and Innocent III., he instigated John to 
withstand the Pope's excommunication. The end of this controversy is 
general history. When the fresh struggle arose between John and the 
barons, the King made his fast firiend Bishop Peter his justiciar, in the 
hope that he would thwart Archbishop Langton; he counselled his 
sovereign to resist the nation to the last The Bishop is credited with the 
introduction into this country of the preaching friars, the greatest theologians 
of the middle ages, whose teaching first raised Oxford to its grand 
position. Few facts concerning the foundation under notice are obtainable. 
It was suppressed by a Bull of Innocent VIIL, a.d. 1446, and annexed by 
Bishop William, also of Winchester, to Magdalen College. A very 
fine fragment of the Priory seal illustrated, am)rds a good view of the 
original. The design comprehended, below a trefoiled arch without 
supports or elaboration, the ^^ Coronation of the B. Virgin/' a theme which, 
as we have seen, constitutes the subject of the reverse of the seal of 
Horsham Priory. Above the figures a crescent encloses a star ; a radiant 
sun divides them, and a candle in a candlestick appears on either side. 
[SI]GILL' : [CONVENTVS : ECCLIE' : BEATE : MARIE : 

D\ : S]ELEBVR[N\] 
An example treated with a vigour and boldness which largely compensate 
for the crudity and stifihess visible in its execution. These defects — 
defects of expression, not conception — are marked, but against them must 
be set skilful delineation of form and graceful draping. About the seal 
there is a charm and force of character undeniable, as well as an art 
though qualified, commendable. 



SOUTH WICK, Austin Canons* Priory of S. Mary, 

CO Southampton. 

A ROYAL house of no great size, which possessed numerous 
P^^TE ijinds and Churches situated in the county. The Church which 
XXXVIII. adjoined was historically celebrated as the scene of the marriage 
Sbal 7 c. of'^Hen. VI. with Margaret of Anjou. A short distance from 

Porchester, the Prionr stood on the north side of Portsmouth 
harbour. In " Southwick Park the foundations of a few walls are yet 
discernible, and a Church at Portsmouth still attests the activi^ of the 
canons. Hen. I., a.d. 1133, founded the institution within the Church of 
S. Mary which then existed at Porchester. Not long after it was removed 



128 MONASTIC SEALS 

here and rapidly gained in importance and wealth. William of Wykeham^ 
the famous Bishop of Winchester, founded within it five chantries for the 
prosperity and soul of Ed. III., for the prelate's own soul, and for those of 
his rather and mother who were buried here. Hen. VI. gave the canons 
free chase in the royal forest The seal of the Priory here illustrated is 
still preserved and affords a second instance (for the first see Boi^rave 
Priory) of those complicated contrivances referred to in our Introduction 
(p. 20) as being composed of several pieces. In this instance the 
matrices are five in number. For us, their preservation is a fortunate 
circumstance since it aUows of our reproducing a perfect impression. 
Obversely, the design conveys an elevation of a structure (largely 
conventional, but in all likelihood illustrating some features of the Priory 
Church) with a central tower and numerous gables, windows and other 
apertures. In the centre a large part of the facade is sectioned and here 
beneath a cinquefoil archway the B. Virgin sits enthroned, holding the 
Divine Infant, cruciformly nimbussed, upon the left knee. To the extent 
of two sixfoil apertures placed in line with the Virgin's head, and two 
pointed arches at the base, the fa9ade is further sectioned to allow of the 
insertion of four heads. 
SIGILLVM : ECCLESIE : SANCTE : MARIE : DE : SVWIKA. 

Reversely, the design comprehends another elevation of 
W^'^^r similar character but varied detail to that described. Here 
XXXVIII. in the centre the facade has two sections one above the other. 
Seal 16. '^^ ^^^ which has eight cusps, contain a half-length 

representation of Our Lord, nimbussed, raising the right hand 
in benediction, and grasping with the left an orb topp^ with a cross. 
This is divided by a terrace of pointed arches from the second, which 
comprises under a circular archway two trefoiled arches, supported by 
slender colums, in which are respectively placed full-length representations 
of the B. Virgin and the Angel Gabriel in illustration of the "Annunciation." 
Within a pointed arch the head of a canon occurs on either side ; over the 
roof a crescent with star and a wavy sun are described. 
SIT : PRO : SVWIKA : MEDIATRIX : VIRGO : PVDICA : ET : 
PAX : ANGELICA : SIT : NOBIS : SEMPER : AMICA : 
Not unmixed with astonishment is the warm admiration this superb 
instance readily evokes. Few Gothic creations, outside seals and 
architecture, have descended to us more exquisite or magnificent. In it 
we have the lively animation and prepossession of the Gothic spirit — that 
spirit which alone could yield an instance of this kind so beautiful — 
which united the devotional and artistic, and the decline of which, if it did 
not influence, was not long after followed by their divorce. Of the 
religious fervour in which the objects illustrated in this work were usually 



TAUNTON PRIORY 149 

conceived much has already been said, and it suffices to note that in the 
apprehension of this example that ardour was not suffered to relax. The 
designs themselves exhibit little or no originality ; it is the spirit, skill, and 
delicacy in which they are presented that strike us with the larger force. 
Richly worked, minutely detailed, carefully studied and exquisitely balanced, 
the architectural facades of both parts are presented with the accuracy 
of a skilful architect's pen and eye. The delineation of the figures attains 
a high but not a superlative standard. Upon the obverse, uthough the 
head of the Virgin is a little disproportionate, the figure is well modelled 
and disposed and draped with considerable grace, whilst that of the Child 
from those aspects merits equal praise. The %ure8 of the reverse arc 
more minute, and their depiction therefore ofrered graver difficulties, 
nevertheless, it is only the most acute study which succeeds in detecting 
in them any defects — and these of a purely technical description. The 
seal was a consumnute effort of an artist of unquestionable capacity, 
patience and skill. Of its order, and any epoch, it is one of the more 
ingenious, striking and beautiful — z magnificent and intricate work of art. 



TAUNTON, Austin Canons* Priory of SS. Peter and Paul, 

CO. Somerset. 

Nexthbr a very large nor important foundation which stood, 
^.^"^^ above the river Tone, on the eastern side of the county-town 
XLIL Qf West Somerset. Taunton is located upon a rising ground 

Seal 84. ^^ * central part of the vale of Taunton Dean. Hence the 

situation of the Priory was singularly beautiful. Founded 
/m^. Hen. I. by William GifFord (a relation and one of the chaplains of 
the Conqueror^, Bishop of Winchester, whose appointment to the See was 
the first act of^ Hen. I. as King-elect. Bishop Henry of Blois enlarged 
the foundation, the patronage of which for a long time continued with the 
prelates of Winchester. To the founder was due the original establishment 
in England, at Waverley, of the Cistercians. Numerous persons assisted in 
enlarging the estate of the Priory, to which Hen. VIII. annexed Staverdale 
Priory. A defective but lucid impression has to suffice us for an 
illustration of the relative seal. The design, which conveys the dual 
dedication, comprises, against a field diapered lozengy and ascending from 
an arcaded platform^ two pointed and trefoiled arches (each pinnacled and 
crocketted), upheld by three slender shafts, that on the dexter containing at 
full-length S. Peter, who holds in his right hand a Church and in his left 
two keys ; that on the sinister, S. Paul with sword. 

K 



130 MONASTIC SEALS 

* S' + COR? * APOSTOLOR + PETRI + ET + PAVLI * 

mANTONIESIS • E 

A pleasing example, no less rich than efFective, which exhibits much that is 
excellent. The design is as well considered as it is nicely balanced, whilst 
the skill shewn in delineation reaches a high order. Without qualification 
the seal may be defined as highly artistic. All that remains of the Priory 
is a barn, which exhibits some windows of Early Decorated character. 
It is situated near the north side of S. James Street. 



TORR, Premonstratensian Abbey of S. Saviour, Holy Trinity, 

and S. Mary, co. Devon. 

A GREAT and noted house — ^the wealthiest of all our Norbertine 
P^-^ * ^ establishments. Its situation — upon a rock or tor (fi-om which 
XXVIIL ii derived its name) of the northern shore of Torbay, 
Seal cc. surrounded by some of the finest scenery in the country — ^was 

in point of charm unsurpassed. For centuries its magnificent 
and solid fiibric was the most conspicuous object in the bay. Founded by 
William, Lord Briwere, a.d. 1196, who well endowed and install^ 
within.it canons from Welbeck. Through the generosity of various 
persons its estate and privileges were enlarged. Peter Fitzmatthew gave it 
the valuable Abbey of Blackaveton ; William the son of the founder, 
Usham which he acquired from the Pomeroy's ; the fiimily of Fitzstephen, 
considerable property in the ancient borough of Dartmouth, and William 
de Gmtilupo, lord of Totnes, freedom from toll in his borough. 

The aJ causas seal of the Abbey forms the subject of our corresponding 
illustration. It is derived from an impression which is woefully imperfect 
and indistinct. We select it for reproduction on account of the comparative 
rarity in seal art of its chief theme which suggests that mediaevalists 
preferred to contemplate the birth rather than the sufierings of the 
Redeemer. Defective as is the impression available it nevertheless 
enables us to determine the lineaments of the original. The design is in 
two sections. In the upper, as relating to the principal dedicatory, 
occurs the Crucifixion between the Virgin and S. John, with an inscription 
upon an entablature and a star and crescent above. The second section 
forms a quadrilobe (arcaded !on either side), which contains a half-length 
representation of the B. Virgin with the Holy Infant, between another 
crescent and star, above the minute figure of a mitred Abbot, drawn at 
half-length in prayer, and placed below an arch. 

SIGILL' • ABBATIS • ET • C DE • TORE AD CAVSAS. 



WALEDEN ABBEY 131 

Comment upon this instance is restricted to the design which is artistic and 
well poised. There is much also that hints at skilful drawing. 

Upon the site of the Abbey a mansion has been erected, but 
considerable remains continue, consisting chiefly of a gatehouse, the 
Chapter-house which is roofless, prostrate masses of the central tower of 
the Church, refectory (now a Chapel) and a stately grange. 



WALEDEN (or Saffron Walden), Benedictine Abbey of S.James, 

CO. Essex. 

**S. James of Waleden" — ^a richly endowed and privileged 
*^^^^E establishment, founded (originally as a Priory) in honour of 
XLIII. God, S. Mary, and S. James. The town in which it stood is 

Seal 86. located upon a narrow tongue of land encompassed with a 

valley; the Abbey was erected, at the confluence of two 
streams where four roads converged in order that its hospitality might be 
easily availed of by the pilgrim and the poor. Founded a.d. 1136 by 
Geoffrey de Mandeville (grandson of Geoffrey de Mandeville, a Norman 
chief and a distinguished partizan of the Conqueror), the first Earl of 
Essex of that jfamily who gave it a considerable estate. The Churchyard 
was consecrated in the year named, by Robert of London, Nigel of Ely, 
and WiDiam of Norwich. There were several benefactors chiefly drawn 
from the founder's family. At first, GeoflFrey de Mandeville, son of the 
founder, shewed the house scant favour but afterwards confirmed all its 
possessions except a piece of glebe. William de Mandeville upon succeeding 
to the Earldom was also antagonistic, but after a journey to the Holy 
Land became very generous to the monks. King Stephen gave an annual 
fair on the Eve and Feast of S. James, and Ed. I. a weeldy market. In 
A.D. 1237 the Church was either rebuilt or substantially repaired. Joan, 
wife of the tenth Earl of Essex, adorned it with sculpture, covered the 
roof with lead, rebuilt the steeple, and gave costly vestments and ornaments, 
including a gold cross containing relics of the True Cross. An impression, 
slightly injured by pressure but otherwise fine, enables us to well convey 
the Abbey seal. The design exhibits S. James the Great, nimbussed, 
standing upon a mount, holding in his right hand a book, in his left a long 
cross or crozier, with three escallops in the field. 

* SIGILLVM : ECCLESIE : SANCTI : lACOBI : DE : 

WALEDENA. 
This charming seal appeals strongly to us on account of the entire absence 
of convention and the quite natural and agreeable manner in which 



132 MONASTIC SEALS 

the figure is delineated. It constitutes, besides, a chaste and artistic instance. 
From whatever point we elect to criticize it, it satisfactorily responds. 
Whilst lacking the vigour exhibited in the drawing of the figure upon the 
other seal iUustrated on this plate, this is treated with considerable 
boldness and is well modelled and vested. 

Upon the site of the Abbey, and partly out of its ruins, Thomas, 
Earl of Suffolk, Lord High Treasurer temp. James I., erected a 
magnificent fabric — ^the fiimous Audley End. It has been largely destroyed, 
one court only (a fine example of Jacobean architecture) now remaining 
which of itself forms a superb residence. 



WALTH AM, Austin Canons' Abbey of The Holy Cross, 

CO. Essex. 

A STATELY foundation of great historical interest and repute 
^^^ xr for learning and sanctity — ^the latter consequent upon the 
XXXV. possession of a miraculous Crucifix — ^in which the town of 
Seal 69. Waltham-Abbey or -Holy Cross originated. It possessed 

enormous wealth, high privileges, and a sumptuous fabric, 
whilst the Abbot, who was mitred, was summoned to Parliament. The 
Abbey was erected upon what was originally the great wold of the county. 
It stood upon the river Lee, and was not destroyed until a.d. 1770. Some 
ruinous walls, a low bridge of three spans over the river, and a fine pointed 
gateway are all that now subsist. In the days of Cnut, the locality 
affording facilities for the chase, his standard bearer, Tovi, a proud 
and powerful Danish thegn (at whose nuptials Harthacnut died whilst 
drinking) erected here a hunting seat. On the top of a peaked hill 
(Montacute) Tovi one day discovered the Crucifix alluded to. He 
brought it here, erected a Church for its reception and placed it under 
the ministry of a few seculars. The town was conferred by the Confessor 
upon Harold (Earl Godwin's son), who, having been completely cured 
of palsy through this Crucifix, rebuilt as a thanksgiving the Church 
upon lines greater and more splendid, endowed it with seventeen manors, 
made it precious gifts and increased the seculars to twelve, under the 
government of a Dean. The cry of the English, " Holv Cross 1 " at the 
battle of Stamford Bridge and on the field of Senlac referred, it has been 
suggested, to the famous Crucifix of Waltham. After the first, Harold 
made a visit to it, offered further gifts and there made vows. Of the 
many legends current regarding it, one relates that as the King lay 
prostrate before it the head of Christ inclined towards him. Another, that 



WALTHAM ABBEY 133 

it warned two of the canons to follow the English towards Hastings and 
witness the battle. After that decisive encounter the corpse of Harold was 
brought to the Abbey and here interred. Although deprived of their 
moveable wealth, the landed estate of the canons (as regards the chief 
portion) was left undisturbed at the Conquest. They continued in 
possession until a.d. 1117 when Hen. II., having vowed to establish an 
Abbey in honour of S. Thomas of Ginterbury, ejected them and in that 
year installed regular canons in their stead. Henry assured to the Abbey 
all the gifts made by K. Harold and other bene&ctors, and bestowed two 
rich manors upon it besides. Rich. I. and other donors largely increased 
its estate in subsequent times. To the Abbey Hen. III. was a frequent 
visitor ; when the news of Wat Tyler's rebellion reached him, 
Rich. II. was in residence near by and here the body of Ed. I. on its 
journey to Westminster lay in state for fifteen weeks. The first seal of 
the Abbey, in its original state, is selected for illustration here our plate 
being derived from casts of a remarkably fine impression in the Chapter 
House* It is composed of two pieces, the design of the premier 
comprising upon a circular field a vesica, bordered with open tracery and 
foliage with a cross within a circular panel on either side, which contains 
the " Cross of Waltham " upon a mount (allusive of the hill where it was 
discovered) upheld by two angels, nimbussed, with expanded wings, who 
have just descended with it. It thus commemorates the circumstance 
which incited the orimnal foundation and dedication. 

* HOC • EST • SIGILU • ECCLESIE • SANCTE • CRVCIS • 

DE • WALTHAAM. 

The design of the reverse also presents upon a circular field a 
PLATE vesica shape, here placed between two shields supported by 
XXXV. liQjjg passant guardant, that on the left displaying, in reference 
Seal 70. ^^ Hen. II.*s connection, the arms of England, that on the 

right, on a cross engrailed five crosses crosslet fitch6es, the 
arms borne, in obvious allusion, by the Abbey. In this instance the vesica 
is occupied by three antique intaglio gems, as follows: — (i) in the centre, a 
circular stone which displays two busts of Byzantine style, with covered 
heads, fiicing each other, intended for the two founders, Tovi and 
Harold ; (2) at the top, a smaller gem exhibiting a man and dolphin 
(non-allusive), and (3) at the base, an oval stone displaying a tiger passant 
to the right. 

* HOC : CARTE : FEDVS : CVM : TOVI : FIRMAT : HAROLD . 
A striking and important seal. Its design is unique, its nature singular. 
Not a trace of conventionalism is discernible in its apprehension and it stands 
boldly out from the rest of our series by reason of^ the marked originality 
it evinces. Its singularity lies in the insertion of the three antiques in the 



134 MONASTIC SEALS 

reverse, a practice that was occasional but not frequent. Among our 
examples, on account of its beauty and clever disposition, it occupies a high 
place. The scheme of the obverse is telling and communicative ; its effect 
one of considerable charm — the theme of the Angels depositing and fixing 
their sacred burden is portrayed with a feeling and truth equal to the 
poetry of the idea. But it is the reverse which perhaps is the most 
commendable, not on account of the nature of its ornament but for the 
perfect harmony of its arrangement. The armorial detail is most skilfully 
and happily treated and disposed. As to the capacity of the artist for 
execution there can be no question ; the seal reveals an extraordinary talent 
in this direction and, as well, constitutes a valuable and interesting creation 
of its period. 

A splendid cruciform Church, with a lofty central tower, was once 
attached to the Abbey. The nave is now used as the parish Church and 
the Lady Chapel as a schoolroom. 



WENLOCK, Cluniac Priory of S. Milburga, 

CO. Salop. 

A FAMOUS house and one of the more important of its class in 
^l^T^^ the country, with the architectural beauties of which but few 
XXIV. could compare, the site of which is to-day marked by an 
Seal 47. extensive pile of exquisite ruins illustrating every species of 

late Norman and the succeeding styles. It stood close to the 
parish Church, on the south side of the town. Originally established by 
S. Milburga, the first Abbess, daughter of K. Merwald and niece of 
K. Wulphere of Mercia, circa. a.d. 680. Destroyed by the Danes and 
restored, semp. Confessor, by Leofric, Earl of Mercia and his brave 
and eenerous lady, Godiva, of Coventry fame. Thirty years later it was 
abandoned and fell into decay. The site was granted by the Conqueror to 
Roger de Montgomery, Earl of Arundel, Chichester and Shrewsbury who 
circa, a.d. 1080, rebuilt or restored it, endowed it largely and annexed it to 
Cluny. Upon her death, the remains of S. Milburga were interred within 
the dhurch which, originally dedicated to the Holy Trinity, became known 
as S. Milburga*s. When Roger de Montgomery was rebuilding it, a boy 
trod upon the hidden spot of her burial place, whereupon it gave forth 
delicious odours which miraculously cured persons sufiFering from king's 
evil. Many thus afflicted flocked hither, and from the translation of her 
remains into the new sanctuary the wealth and consequence attained by the 
Priory dates. In common with other alien houses it suffered during the 



WESTACRE PRIORY 135 

wars with France. It was seized by the crown, temp. Ed. IIL, and decreed 
** Prioratus indigena " temp. Rich. II. 

A good impression Airnishes our illustration which is of the ad causas 
seal. The design conveys under a trefoiled arch, supported by slender 
pillars and surmounted by a Church-like structure, S. Michael the 
Archangel (with no apparent connection) with expanded wings, piercing 
with a long lance held in the right hand the head of a dragon who lies 
at his feet and carrying in his left a circular shield. 
S' ECCUIE : CONUENTUAUS : DE WENLOK : AD CAVSAS • 

TANTUM. 
A simple and pleasing instance this, the artistic merits of which in design 
as weU as in execution are excellent The figure is nicely drawn and 
perfectly poised, with its activity well expressed. 

The south transept of the Priory Church and two of the cloisters are 
still in a perfect state. The end and side walls of the first (which include 
triforium and clerestory) with the wall of the north transept also continue 
with other important remains. 



WESTACRE, Austin Canons' Priory of S. Mary and All Saints, 

CO. Norfolk. 

A FOUNDATION of some consequence (originally occupied by 
^^^^E Black Canons) which stood on a bank of the river Nar. In 
XXV. addition to the patronage of various Churches, it possessed 

Seal co. numerous lands in the county and cells at Narford, 

Massingham Magna, and Woburn. To Oliver the priest or 
rector of Westacre (the first Prior) and Walter, his son, it owed its 
inception, temp. Rufus, and to Ralph de Tony, lord of the manor (who 
promoted it for the sake of his soul and for those of his wife, sons and 
ancestors), its erection. The latter granted the priest by way of endowment, 
the manor and parish Church. Afterwards the Priory became the 
recipient of numerous gifts, those of Guy, Beauchamp and Tarquin, Earls 
of w arwick, being the most substantial. An annual fair upon the feast of 
the Translation of S. Thomas of Canterbury was granted by Ed. IV. 
During the reign of Ed. I. both Priory and Church were destroyed by 
fire. A perfect impression enables us to afford a complete illustration of 
the second seal of the Priory. The design exhibits an architectural scheme 
which comprises a tall niche of three pointed and trefoiled arches, with a 
Church-like canopy at the top, supported by pinnacled shafts, with a 
trefoiled, pointed and pinnacled wing supported on a bracket upon either side* 



136 MONASTIC SEALS 

The niche is divided into two sections, the upper containing, within a vesica, 
a representation of the Holy Trinity known as the Italian Trinity — God 
the Father seated and supporting in His outstretched arms Christ 
crucified — ^between the symbols of the four Evangelists. The second 
section exhibits under a circular arch, trefoiled upon the inner and arcaded 
upon the outer sides, the B. Virgin, crowned and seated with her. feet 
resting upon a wyvern, playine; at ball with the Infant Jesus, who holds 
(unusually) z, fleur-de-'Us in his left hand and stands upon the seat. In the 
dexter wing stands Ralph de Tony, represented as an accoutred knight, 
and in the sinister Oliver the priest. 

S' CAPITVLI • ECCU • BE • MARIE • ET • OMNIVM • SCOR • DE • 

WESTACRA. 
A remarkable and beautiful seal of great interest and besides, artistically 
and otherwise, a valuable memorial. The wealth of detail — each element of 
which is pregnant with story — ^the design possesses is ordered in perfect 
symmetry and executed with high skill. The Infant is inaccurately, but the 
virgin truthfully delineated and posed ; the theme — the Mother amusing 
the Child— one of singular charm, is presented with the fullest eflect. 
Alone, the seal distinguishes the craft it represents as an important and 
expressive art. 

The Priory Church was a laige structure ; what now remains of it is 
a part of the tower, and of the domestic buildings principally a gatehouse. 



WESTMINSTER, Benedictine Abbey of S. Peter, 

CO. Middlesex. 

A MAGNIFICENT housc which ranked in the forefront of the 
^*jj^^^ greatest monastic centres of the land. In its historic 
XXXII. associations, renown, sanctity, affluence, and importance 
Seal 63. together it stood unrivalled. It was erected upon an 

uncultivated spot, overgrown with thorns and surrounded by 
water, called in Saxon times " Thorney Island.'* After the erection of the 
Church here, to distinguish it from S. Paul's, it became designated the 
"Minster of the West," or Westminster. The traditions of the Abbey are 
preserved in« and its site indicated by the once adjoining Church, than 
which no edifice in the world, save S. Peter's, Rome, is more illustrious. 
It constitutes one of the nation's glories. No kindred fabric contributes 
so abundantly to England's annals ; in it the nation's history is embodied. 
From Harold to Victoria within its walls the heads of our sovereigns with 
few exceptions have been endued with the sacred gold ; to some the Church 



WESTMINSTER ABBEY 137 

not only gave crowns but " doth their ashes keep.** The genesis of the 
Abbey is involved in obscurity ; until the time of the Confessor no 
account concerning it can be accounted absolutely historical. The former 
circumstance has occasioned much speculation, and opinion is divided as 
to whether it originated with the apostolic or pontifical conversion of 
England. Of the beliefs credited in the Middle Ages, one of the 
strongest was that S. Peter, after the Ascension, visited this island in 
person and erected upon it a Chapel from which the Abbey issued. An 
unknown chronicler gives the year a.d. 184 as the date of foundation, and 
in the histories of John Flete, a Prior of Westminster, and Richard 
Sporley, who entered it as a monk, his evidence is adduced in support of 
the contention. Whilst a British origin is ambiguous, there can be no 
doubt that at a very early period of the Heptarchy the lines of the Abbey 
were laid. The Saxon foundation is variously ascribed to a London 
citizen, Sebbertus, and his wife ; Mellitus, Bishop of London (the 
companion of S. Augustine) ; Sebert of the East Saxons and Ofia of 
Mercia, but with the greatest show of reason to the East Saxon King. 
Having been baptized by Bishop Mellitus he is said to have erected the 
Church here in honour of S. Peter, out of which the Abbey is conjectured 
to have ^wn. There is extant a beautiful legend, too lengthy to admit 
of insertion here, concerning its dedication by S. Peter himself. During 
the following centuries Sebert's foundation endured many vicissitudes. At 
the hands of the Danes it sustained frequent injury. Through the 
instrumentality of S. Dunstan (who introduced the Benedictine rule) 
K. Edgar restored it and added to its property. It was towards the 
eleventh century that the Abbey escaped from its comparative obscurity and 
began to acquire that renown which grew to distinguish it. The Confessor 
showered upon it immense and continuous favours. He assured all its 
possessions, largely augmented them and rebuilt the Church in a &shion so 
magnificent as to decimate his estate. He increased the number of the 
clergy, exempted the house from episcopal control and obtained of the 
Pope a rescript which qualified the Church for English coronations. The 
splendid favour shewn this foundation by K. Edward was in the fulfilment, 
or rather compromise of a vow he had made to make the pilgrimage to 
Rome, from which for political reasons he was dissuaded. The Conqueror 
laid upon the altars rich gifts, and subsequendy increased its estate which, 
during the wars of K. Stephen and Maud was largely seized and made 
desolate. It was restored, however, for the most part temp. Hen. II. 
For the use of mitre, ring, and gloves the Abbot Laurentius procured the 
Pope's consent a.d. 1160, and during the rule of Humez (a.d. 12 14) the 
long dispute between the Bishops of London and the Abbots regarding 
jurisdiction was settled by arbitration. Equally with the Confessor was 



138 MONASTIC SEALS 

Hen. III., who rebuilt the Church, liberal to the Abbey ; rich and many 
were the gifts and privil^es which he conferred upon it A remarkably 
fine impression enables us to reproduce successfully the second seal of the 
Abbey. It is of two parts, and proffers an example of early work within 
our period. Obversely, the design exhibits the patron, S. Peter, with 
engrailed nimbus, wearing a mitre, pall and vestments (partly embroidered 
and with interlaced ring-work) seated upon a carved throne, his feet resting 
upon the mysterious figure of a king Qying at full-length), holding in his 
right hand a croxier, in his left two keys. 
+ DIMIDIA : PARS : SIGILU : ECCLESIE : SANCTI : PETRI : 

WESTMONASTERII. 

Reversely, the scheme exhibits Edward the Confessor, clad in 

Pi^ATK embroidered robes, seated upon a carved throne, with his feet 

XXXII. 2lso resting upon a regal figure in the same humiliating and 

Seal 64. painful position as that upon the obverse, holding in his right 

hand a sceptre fleiuy, in his left a model of the Abbey Church 
in allusion to his association with it. On the left of the field is a lai^ 
rose between three pierced roses of lesser size, with other small 
detail ; on the right, some other flower between the same number of 
pierced roses, with some minor embellishment also. 
*DIMIDIA : PARS : SIGILL' : ECCLESIE : SANCTI : PETRI : 

WESTMONASTERII. 
A fine seal, of chaste and simple design, chiefly remarkable for the vigour 
of treatment which it displays. Both figures are capably drawn and 
disposed, but it is that of S. Peter which exhibits the most skilful limning 
and the easiest disposition. The capacity of the engraver was indisputably 
great, and his faculty for expression no less. 



WIGMORE, Austin Canons' Abbey of SS. James and Victor, 

CO. Hereford. 

An extensive and important house, which reached the 
viJ^^ Dissolution divested of a large part of its original estate, of 
XXXVL which but few remains are extant. It stood, upon an elevated 
Seal 72. ^^^^> about a mile from the parish, in the direction of 

Shrewsbury, and the same distance from Wigmore Castle 
(now an ivy-clad ruin) in which it originated. Ranulph de Mortimer, who 
accompanied Duke William to En^and, having taken the casde from 
Edric, Earl of Shrewsbury, rebuilt it for his own occupation and founded 
in the parish Church a college of three prebendaries. When dying he laid 



WROXTON PRIORY 139 

injunctions upon his son and heir, Sir Hugh de Mortimer, to erect in its 
place an Abbey and accordingly, at the instance of Sir Hugh, his steward, 
Sir Oliver de Merlimound, raised and endowed on a small scale a house at 
Scobedon, or Shobedon, in which a Prior and two canons from S. Victor's, 
Paris, were installed. Through scarcity of water and other incon- 
veniences the canons changed the site to Eye ; from thence to Wigmore, 
thence to Beodune, thence again to Shobdene, and finally to this place 
again where, a.d. 1179, Sir Hugh founded a noble Abbey for their 
reception which he liberally endowed. The seal of the house reproduced 
exhibits a facade of three canopied niches, the central, which is of larger 
proportions than the rest, containing a full-length representation of 
S. George, accoutred, with sword and shield ; the sinister, another, of 
S. James the Apostle (chief patron) and the dexter a third, of S. Victor, 
who was also esteemed a patron by reason of his being the dedicatory of 
the French house from which the canons were originally drawn. Below 
the screen appears an arcade of three arches, upheld by two slender 
pillars, the chief containing the kneeling figure of an Abbot 

ONASTERII • SAJ^CTOR • lACOBI • ET • VICTORIS • DE • 

WIG 

The unsatisfactorv state of the impression available for illustration debars 
us firom a complete estimate of the qualities of the seal under notice. 
There is evidence, however, sufilicient to justify our esteeming it a good 
one. The richness in which the scheme was conceived is apparent, and 
that it was well balanced is also clear. Close study renders abortive any 
attempt at realizing the artist's actual skill in figure delineation and 
expression, but a superficial view suggests, if it does not reveal, able 
drawing. The Abb^ and Church (which contained the tombs of five 
Earls of March) were destroyed at the Dissolution. 



WROXTON, Austin Canons' Priory of S. Mary, 

CO. Oxford. 

A SMALL establishment, erected about three miles distant from 
Yv^^ Banbury, the site of which is now occupied by a mansion — 
XXXVL "Wroxton Abbey" — in the erection of which some of its 
Seal 71. arches and other portions were incorporated. Founded in the 

reign of Hen. III. by Michael Belet, who endowed with the 
lordship of Wroxton and Balscote, and afterwards extended. Hen. III. 
confirmed the possessions and privileges of the canons, and Baldwin Pigot 
granted them the Church at Ounsby. The design of the seal illustrated 



I40 MONASTIC SEALS 

comprises three sections ; the first contains within a niche, having a 
trefoiled arch, the enthronement of the B. Virgin and Child ; the second, 
the Prior seated and holding a Book between six canons who stand, three 
on either side, under a cusped arch ; and the third, also under a cusped 
arch, the three-quarter figure of the founder raising his dexter hind and 
holding helmet and shield in the sinister. 

SIGILU PRIORIS ET CONVENT[VS] LOCI SCE MARIE DE 

WROCSTA. 
Although the impression reproduced in reference to this description lacks 
sharpness of outline, and thereby precludes a full appreciation of the 
virtues of the original seal, it is adequately lucid to convince us that it was 
the eflbrt of a clever artist The design exhibits a certain and commendable 
departure from conventional lines. Whilst ample, it is not overcrowded, 
in fact its ornament received a careful distribution which in the central 
section realized an effective grouping. Evidence of an aptitude for 
execution commensurate with the fertility present in apprehension and plan 
would place the seal highly amongst works of its order. Except such parts 
as are incorporated in the mansion referred to, nothing now remains of 
the ancient Priory. 



YORK, Hospital of S. Leonard, 

CO. York. 

One of the wealthier and more extensive hospices of the 
^^^^^ north, in which a Master, thirteen brethren, four seculars, 
XXX. eight sisters, thirty choristers, two school-masters, two hundred 

Seal 6o. ^^^ ^^^ beadsmen, and six servitors were supported. It stood 

upon the left bank of the Ouse, upon a site now embraced by 
the gardens of the Yorkshire Philosophical Society. Founded a.d. 936 
by K. Athelstan, who destroyed the casde here and made York the seat of 
the Earls of Northumbria. In the reign of the Conqueror the Hospital 
was removed by the canons of the Githedral to a site near the west end of 
that fabric, and by Rufus (who so enlarged its possessions and buildings 
as to be esteemed the founder) it was again transferred, to another psut 
of the city. During the reign of Stephen the house was destroyed by fire, 
whereupon the King rebuilt and dedicated it to S. Leonard. Hen. II. 
confirmed its privileges, and K. John granted timber for building purposes 
and foel, with grass and pasture through the entire forest of the shire. 
Walter Langton, appointed Master in a.d. 1294, framed the statutes under 
which the Hospital was thence governed. The seal reproduced in relation 



YORK HOSPITAL 141 

to this note, from an impression lacking somewhat definity of outline but 
otherwise good, is that which appertained to the Exchequer. Against a 
field diapered lozengy the design comprises, beneath a pointed and 
trefoiled arch supported by pinnacled and crocketted shafts, a full-length 
statuette of S. Leonard, ecclesiastically vested, holding a staff in one hand 
and a book in the other. Outside the niche, upon the dexter side is a 
shield displaying the armorials of England and below, in an archway, the 
half-length figure of a monk in prayer. 

S OFFICII • SCACCAR* • HOSP' SCI LEONARD' EBOR\ 
A little example which secures considerable richness of effect. The 
insertion of a shield upon one side of the field only, renders it somewhat 
rare. Both the scheme and the manner in which it is presented are 
decidedly good. 

What now remains of this important Hospital is principally the 
entrance passage, ambulatory (or cloister), and a handsome E.E. Chapel. 



Intfzx. 



Amiens, Cathedral of - 

Anglo-Saion Usage 

Anti(|aity of the Seal 

Architectural Aspect of Design 

Ardstic value of Monastic S^ds 

Augustinian Abbqrs :— 
Bristol - - 
Haghmond • - - 
Kenilworth . . - 
Newburgh . . . 
Oseney . - - 

Waltham 
Wigmore . . - 

Augustinian Priories : 

Bradenstoke - - - 
Canterbury - - - 
Chaucumbe (or Sawcomb) 
Chich (or S. Osyth's) 
Colchester - . . 
Combwell - - . 
Flixton - - . 

Grace-Dieu - - - 
Kyme - - . . 
Lanercost - - . 
Ledes - - . - 
Merton . - - 

Mottesfont - . - 
Newenham . - . 
Selbome ... 
Southwick . . . 
Taunton . . - 
Westacre ... 
Wrozton . - - 

Autograph, substituted for Seal 

Benedictine Abbeys :— 

Barking ... 

Bath - . . . 
Buiy S. Edmunds - 
Canterbury . . - 
Ceme (or Cemell) 
Chertsey - - - 
Chester ... 

Croybnd ... 



S 

I 

22 
21 

3S 

86 

93 
no 

119 

132 

138 

33 
41 
46 

5» 
53 
56 

78 

85 

95 

97 
100 

104 

109 

III 

126 

127 

129 

135 
139 

10 



*9 
30 

37 
43 
45 

47 

49 
61 



Elstow (or Helenstowe) - 
Evesham - - -. - 
Faversham .... 
Glastonbury . - . . 
Hyde (or Newminster) - 
Middleton (or Milton) - 
Peterborough ... 

Ramsey .... 

Waleden (or Saffron Walden) - 
Westminster - . . - 

Benedictine Priories :-— 

Bozgrave .... 
Dover - - - - - 

Ely 

Golddiffe .... 
Horsham . - . - 
Luffield .... 

Norwich .... 

Biographical Interest of Monastic 
Seals ..... 

Bonifiice Archdeacon ... 

Bourgesy Cathedral of - - - 

Bozgrave Prioiy, Seal of - - 

Cathale Priory, Seal of - 
Carmelite Friaries : — 

Chester .... 

Ozford .... 

Cimabue ..... 
Cistercian Abbeys : 

Combe (or Cumbe) r 

Holme Cultram ... 

Kirbtead .... 

Newminster . - - - 
Cluniac Priories : 

Bromholm .... 

Wenlock .... 
Commonwealth, Seals of the - 
Comparison of Seal with other Arts - 
Confessor, Seal of the ... 

Decree of Edward I. regarding Seals 

of conventual establishments 
Definition of a Seal ... 



67 
7* 

7S 
79 

106 

>»S 
131 

136 

3» 
63 
68 

84 
90 

103 
"4 

22 

9 

5 
20 

»$ 
S» 

121 

3 

54 
88 

94 
112 

36 

«34 
12 

3 
II 



15 

7 



144 



INDEX 



Development of the Antique Seal - 7 

n of Monastic SeaJ Engraving 16 

„ of Monastic Design - - 18 

Devotional Aspect - - - - 23 

Dominican Friary : 

Gloucester - - - - 83 

Dover Prioiy, Seal of - - - *5 

Dual Seals 13 

Duccio di Buoninsegna - - - 4 

Early EzceUence of Monastic Seal Art 3 

Early Seals, Material of - - - 8 

Ecclesiastical Usage - - - 14 

Ecclesiastical Design, Nature of ' - 18 

England, Introduction into - - 10 

Giovanni da Fiesoie - - - 17 

Great Seal 14 

Greak treatment of Seals ' ~ 7 

Gilbertines of Lincoln, Seal of - 25 

History of Seals .... 6 

Historical Aspect of Monastic Design it 

Henry v., Seal of - - - - 11 
Heraldic Seals - - - -12 

Heraldry of Monastic Seals - - 22 

Heyninges Priory - - - - 87 
Hospitals : — 

Dover, St. Mary's - - - 66 

Kypier (or Kepire), S. Giles - 96 
Northampton, SS. John the 

Baptist and Evangelist - '1^3 

Norwich, S. Giles - - - 118 

York, S. Leonard - - - 140 

Importance of Seals * - * 5 

Lay Design, Nature of - - -11 
Legendary Features of Monastic 

Design 25 

Lettering, Syles of - - - 21 

Material used, for English Seals - 16 

Method of Affixing - - - 1 3 



Merton Priory, Seal of - 
Milverton, Chapel of S. Mary - 
Monasticism, System of - 
Monastic Usage ... 

Obscurity of Seal Art 

Orvieto Cathedral - - - 

Pisano, Niccola . . - 
Pershore Abbey, Seal of - 
Premonstratensian Abbeys : — 
Bradsole . . . 

Coverham . . - 
Crozton - - - 

Langdon ... 
Torr - - - - 
Process of Engraving 

Queens' Consort, Seals of the - 

Renaissance, Influence of the - 
Rheims, Cathedral of - 
Roman treatment of the Seal - 
Royal Seals .... 



St. Denis, Abbey of - - - 
Salbum, Cell or Chapel of S. Michael 
Security of Seals - . - - 
SeaUng-Wax- . - . - 
Shape of Ecclesiastical Seals 
Stone Engraving . . . - 
Southwick Priory, Seal of - - 
Superiority of Ecclesiastical Seal Art - 

Topographical Value of Monastic 
Seals 

Value of Lay Design ... 

Value of Monastic Design 

Virgin and Child, First appearance of 

Wells, Cathedral of 
Worcester Cathedral, Seal of - 
York, S. Mary's Abbey, „ 



4 
108 

*4 

I 

5 

4 

34 
58 
60 

98 

130 

16 

12 

2 

5 

7 
12 

9 
126 

13 

»4 
26 

7 
21 

2 



22 

13 
21 

»9 

5 

'9 
'9 



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